Ted Cruz joins the public in battle against scientists — so he’s Galileo

April 3, 2015

Ted_Cruz,_official_portrait,_113th_Congress galileo
I don’t know about you, but I feel like these two are the same guy.

I read a fascinating story in the Merc not too long ago about the canyon between what American scientists and the public believe to be important concerns. According to the article, scientists are more certain that global warming and over-population are real problems, and that vaccinating children is important.

Meanwhile, the public is freaking out about GMOs, pesticides, and nuclear power, three items scientists generally wouldn’t be caught dead wringing their hands about.

It seemed like good fodder for a post, but I didn’t really have a nice peg to hang it all on, so I let it slip.

Then, out of fucking nowhere, came Ted Cruz, comparing himself to Galileo. Why does Ted think he’s Galileo? Because, Mr. Cruz explained, as Galileo fought conventional wisdom at the risk of persecution, so, to, does Mr. Cruz battle the global warming alarmists, so clearly in the majority.

It gets better. Those who believe global warming is a problem, including all those scientists mentioned above, are all a bunch of ignoramus “flat-earthers.” Sound like your drunk uncle yet?

In fairness, the article I’m pulling from definitely pulls out the dumbest-sounding bit of the interview, but Ted’s points nicely illustrate the intellectual distance between the lab coats and the people. Cruz attacks scientists as a rather accusing pack of jackals. According to the Merc article, 88 percent of scientist thought genetically modified foods are safe to eat. Are these scientists, too, flat-earthers, or are the 63 percent of the public who disagree with them the flat-Earthers?

Are the 98 percent of scientists who believe humans evolved over time flat-earthers, or are the 35 percent of the public that insists that people ran around with dinosaurs flat-Earthers? How about the 75 percent of scientists who believe nuclear power is a potential crutch to battle global warming vs. 55 percent of the public certain they’re wrong? Who’s the flat-Earther there?

I suppose the only way to know for sure which scientists are right and which are pushing a liberal agenda would be to ask our own modern-day Galileo, Ted Cruz.

It isn’t that the public needs to agree with everything the scientists say. The scientists themselves don’t all agree with one another, either. It is, however, disconcerting when people reject science in favor of views that seem to materialize out of thin air.

Anecdotal evidence is common – Doesn’t everyone have that friend who won’t ever get a flu shot because of that one time their own unseen friend had claimed to have become sick as a result? Or decided global warming is a sham because it got cold one day? Or a co-worker who insists that produce grown without pesticides are insect-riddled and will make you ill? Or the aunt who somehow decides her organic apple is more refreshing than that overlarge obscenity from the supermarket?

When science is dismissed in favor of personal opinion, it irks me, because personal opinion is not subject to the scientific method. Even the most biased scientist in the world would have trouble fabricating an entire theory without being dismissed by the scientific community.

A friend recently challenged me, “So, you believe everything scientists tell you?”

“More than I believe you,” was my reply. Give me all the scientists who have been “bought off” and let’s see how many of these money-grubbing labcoats really exist.

If you’re dismissing reports that are the result of painstaking research, at least believe something better. To insist that pesticides are harmful when the current brand of pesticide was responsible for feeding great populations who would otherwise starve is irresponsible when the burden of proof is on those who, in recent decades, have reach sudden concern that anything grown unnaturally will cause death.

Similarly, disregarding global warming is dangerous. It takes a great deal of conspiracy theory to decide that someone somewhere is getting rich off of findings that the temperature of the planet is gradually heating, and that this is a problem. Still, somehow, to people such as Ted Cruz, it makes more sense to dismiss decades of research and somehow decide that you’re like Galileo for doing so.

Because Galileo made a career out of dismissing science? Moreover, Galileo’s notions had nothing to do with how round or flat the earth was — by his time, no one thought it was flat any more, except maybe one of Ted Cruz’s ancestors, screaming about how Galileo was a moron for suggesting the earth rotates around the sun.

Ted Cruz is Galileo because he disagreed with people. And I’m Mick Jagger because I can’t get no Satisfaction. I’m Clark Kent because I wear glasses.

Ted may see himself as Galileo, but my friend pointed out that he’s a lot more like Insane Clown Possey:

“Fucking magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed”

-Miracles, by Insane Clown Possey

Fairwell, Mork, and thanks for the laughs

August 16, 2014
Photo from Kansas City Star's memorial photo gallery.

Photo from Kansas City Star’s memorial photo gallery.

I usually can’t stand it when a celebrity dies and the lives of us normal folk are expected to grind to a halt. For example, I whined something terrible when Michael Jackson passed.  After all, there are real problems left in this world, and our media outlets are responsible for keeping us informed on more than who’s sleeping with who and who’s … y’know, still alive.

The recent passing of Robin Williams was different for me. I developed a sort of heavy feeling that stuck to me like gum to your shoe on a hot day.

Of course, all the members of the press have certain expectations to fulfill. If they didn’t fill the airwaves and front pages with ooey gooey slop about how the dead star in question touched all of our lives, could we call ourselves civilized?

The trouble is, in this case, they’re right. I really did feel like I knew Robin Williams. Not personally, but as sort of a funny uncle you only see once a decade and never really talk to. And from what I’ve heard, lots of people agree. It seems that the late Mr. Williams invaded our homes and minds, becoming someone we “know” in ways usually reserved for radio personalities we hear on the way to work every day. Even if you were annoyed by this funny uncle, in the way that you might dread Thanksgiving because you know you’d have to see him, you have to admit that Mr. Williams seemed familiar.

Of course, most of us felt like he was more of a buddy. If you didn’t see “Mork and Mindy” when it originally aired back in the 1970s, chances are you saw it as a rerun on channel 72 alongside commercials for insurance, carpet cleaning and 14-month certificate programs.

If you didn’t, you were probably around when “Mrs. Doubtfire” hit. If you weren’t old enough to see “Good Morning Vietnam” when it was released, chances are you grazed a dust-covered copy at Blockbuster Video, back before the Big Red Box took over.

The fact is, one way or another, Williams found his way into our lives. In interviews, he exhibited a mind that seemed to move even more quickly than his rapidly moving mouth, one of the few celebrities to not only live up to, but surpass his on-screen persona. You’d have to rewind just to figure out all the stuff he’d cram into a sentence — and that was on the fly. When he had time to think up material, he could be piercing, vicious, and yet, still come off as a pal you’d like to have a beer with.

The circumstances of his death are difficult, because we don’t expect this sort of thing from a 63-year-old man. When Kurt Cobain shot himself in the head with a shotgun, he was a mixed-up 27-year-old who had scrawled depressed, dark thoughts such as, “I hate myself and want to die.” Not that we didn’t mourn. When Heath Ledger accidentally OD’d on prescription pills, he was a young actor who’d plumbed the depths of his darkness to play the Joker.

You just sort of expect that by the time you pass a certain age, the darkness will somehow mend. I wouldn’t have predicted in a million years that the man who could turn anything into a jovial joke, who gave every appearance of having an exceptional zest for life, would be found hanging from a belt in his doorway.

I saw a Telemundo story about the actor’s passing, and the reporters spoke with various residents of Williams’ immediate area. All had very nice things to say, whether they’d bumped into him heading out for his morning espresso or not. What impressed me most was that a local maid who worked on many houses on the block had her brow furrowed with sorrow and said heartfelt things about him.

Telemundo is a Spanish station, and my Spanish is only so good, so I wasn’t sure whether or not she worked at his house, but here’s my criteria: In a world of hot-shot one-percenters who see pissing on those with less than them as some sort of earned privilege, anyone who manages to garner kind words from a member of “the rest of us” tribe, to which most of the population belongs, is pretty up there in my book.

No peace in the Middle East, sue the President, Facebook is doing very well

July 31, 2014
"Stand in front of your own flag, jerk." -- Spoken simultaneously by both. (photo: Saul Loeb, APP, Getty images)

“Stand in front of your own flag, jerk.” — Spoken simultaneously by both.

Sometimes, you pick up a newspaper and its front page just sort of slaps you in the face. Early the other morning, the front page that slapped me featured two stories that sat side by side, meaning that two headlines were neck-and-neck in regard to their distance above the fold. This is not all that common. Trust me, I’m a journalist. Well, kind of.

One story mentioned that Facebook had overtaken IBM on the stock market (however briefly) and the other said that a school in Gaza had been hit by a rocket of unknown origin, killing 16 and injuring hundreds.

If these two side-by-side bedfellows seemed a bit of an odd couple, suggesting that by the local perspective, the position of the stock market and lives lost to conflict in the Middle East were of equal importance, the news that greeted me when I turned on my car radio on the way to work drove the variety of the news day further into the Twilight Zone – Boehner, still at it with that lawsuit, was one step closer to suing Obama. The President’s offense? As you’ve probably heard by now, a failure to carry out laws. Healthcare laws, to be specific. Obamacare. The ones that Republican-led House have done everything in their power to lampoon and halt.

Yeah, so the radio slapped me, too.

Here we see two very different ideas of conflict. On one side of the world, we have deeply divided powers with starving angry people stuck in the middle. It’s ugly, mean, and plenty of innocent life is shed in the crossfire. Meanwhile, back in the States, we have fat, complacent people finger-pointing at one another, using the polarized atmosphere for political gain and making sure that compromise is impossible. Each day we come closer to desecrating the notion that our democratic system should be any sort of example to anyone in the world.

Oh, and Facebook is doing great.

To go into too much detail in regard to what’s going on with any of these stories would undermine the point I’m trying to make. Boehner’s got his work cut out for him if he’s going to prove standing, and I can’t seem to shake constant flashbacks of a scene in “Clueless,” in which the blonde valley girl, watching CNN, wonders aloud, “Didn’t they declare peace in the Middle East?”

The fact that these two stories are happening at the same time in the same world boggles the mind. It’s like having, on one city block, both a family that regularly get into violent physical, plate-throwing, window-breaking fire-starting confrontations and another family down the street that handles disagreements by engaging one another with frequent bouts of passive aggressive silent treatment that go on for months.

The most recent front-page splash details the horrific, if common, account of Middle-Eastern casualties — this time, a school struck by rockets that each side claim was fired by their opponent. It makes the current matinee showing of American political theater all that much more macabre. It’s insulting. I heard Benjamin Barber, author of “Why Mayors Should Rule the World,” speaking on the radio, and he mentioned problems with trust and our politicians.

We don’t trust the jerks that use our physical well-being as political cannon fodder? No shit. Barber cited that while 18 percent of Americans approve of Congress, mayors tend to garner closer to 70 percent approval. I can’t for the life of me figure out where he got those numbers, and I have no idea how true the statement is.

It sounds about right though. As Barber said, mayors can’t afford to cross their arms ignore one side or the other, they have to deal with everyone. When only the extreme left or right is happy in this country, we’ve got issues. Other countries are excused for wondering how a rich nation such as this one could muck it up with so much stupid. Maybe Barber’s right – let’s let mayors rule the world.

Has technology made us lost at sea without a compass?

July 30, 2013
This high-tech spying has got to stop.

This high-tech spying has got to stop.

“You’re brainwashed by technology,” a strange man told me. He was sitting on a bicycle waiting at the same crosswalk as I was, smoking a joint. “Everyone is.”

Moments earlier, in what must have been the longest wait ever for the little green walking man to show his face on the crosswalk signal, he mentioned that he had fought six international wars.

In any event, even though I do not maintain a Facebook page, had (at the time) a thoroughly “dumb” phone, and am what those around me might typically call a Luddite, I didn’t argue the point that I was brainwashed by technology.

“I know. Pity, isn’t it?”

When the light finally turned green, I trudge to work thinking about the ways in which technology had brainwashed me. Dumb phone? True, but I did have a cell phone, and that’s something. And I do have this computer on which I type presently. It’s slow, mouse-ridden, and most Internet searches result in an endless spinning wheel — not to mention that its brothers and sisters have all but gone on display in the Smithsonian.

But it’s a computer.

I began to think of all the little pleasures in life that technology, which has brainwashed us, has denied us. I may never again hear a song on the radio and wonder for weeks who the hell performed it. If the radio itself isn’t already telling me who it is via an LED screen, I can just type a lyric into some search engine and know instantly.

Cell phones have deprived us of the delicious masochism inherent in attempting to, oh, meet a friend, in any given place, at any given time, with no confirmation at said time that he/she/it is ever going to show up. Does anyone out there remember the pleasure of waiting at a designated meeting spot, pondering whether or not to go a block away to a pay phone to check whether said person has left his/her/its house? On the one hand, you’d have some sort of closure (“sorry, Chad, I’m running late man” or answering machine), but then what if your dweezil of a friend shows up when you’re a block away on the payphone, surmises that you may have just given up during your twenty minute wait, and just leaves? You then return to the spot wondering whether the preceding has conspired or not.

And, of course, there’s the whole privacy thing. Internet = no privacy. It’s the main reason I don’t have a Facebook page. I remember condemning the Livejournal phase of yesteryear as a haphazard surrender of your most private thoughts to anyone with a dial-up connection. Livejournal posters were shocked and amazed when Suzie read in a post that her friend Nancy thought she was an absolute tool — with gross acne to boot.

What the hell did they expect?

Further, as this craze morphed to MySpace and, finally, to Facebook, the phenomenon has only gotten worse, as the masses surrender all information about themselves, including to-the-minute details about current activities and locations, often adorning these useless musings with photographic evidence.

And your Yelp page tells us what you like to eat and all your shoddy opinions about the places in which you do so, and your Twitter page tells us your most recent thoughts on anything, and your blog … er, well blogs are OK to me. Hmm.

spytech2

Well. Anyway, Snowden comes along and lets us all know that our privacy is not absolute, as if this is really news. The resulting outcry puzzles me. We put all of our day-to-day information in these giant honeypots across the Internet so that any ninny with the understanding of how to log on can find a great deal of it. As a society, we have practically demolished any need to spy on us.

Anyone who remembers as far back as the early 2000s should recall a certain privacy outcry in the midst of Bush-era wiretapping, which he has repeatedly said was for the safety of the country. To an extent, people ate that up. At the very least, most were searching for some sort of sweet spot between an Orwellian, 1984 government and a bumbling one that has no understanding of when terrorist attacks are going to happen and why.

It was the beginning of the now commonplace practice of surrendering a certain amount of privacy for the sake of a feeling of comfort and safety.

After this all left the front page, only the anti-Bush (at the time, many) remembered the outrage. The NSA, in the late 2000s, dialed back its surveillance, but is it really that big of a surprise that, in the day and age of free information, when you can just haphazardly type in the name of someone you sort of remember form first grade and the next day be Skyping them, that Big Brother is watching? That it’s now called a “critical tool” for our safety? (Bush, is that you? –nope, it’s not)

Don’t get me wrong, I dig my privacy. I wish I had more of it. If you could buy privacy, I’d have seven or eight cases in my closet just in case I run out. And naturally, I’d be opening a fresh box of Privacy, with eleven essential vitamins and minerals, as we speak.

And yes, I understand the difference between deciding I’d like to post a picture of my cat, Skittles, on the Internet and the government tapping directly into the servers of major Internet companies to look up the souffle recipes I e-mailed my mother.

And, if it was fun to hear the likes of Apple, Facebook and Microsoft fumble around and stutter that, no, we never knowingly offered pounds of information to the government, it is understandable that countries identified eerily as “targets” would want an explanation, as two of our cowboys, McCain and Schumer, clinking their spurs, tell Putin “Don’t slap us in the face, pilgrim,” in regard to Snowden’s attempts at asylum in Russia.

The latest is that asylum in Russia will be tantamount to getting a one-room, cockroach-infested shack withing which he would be subject to more poking and prodding than your average alien abduction.

All told, it’s been eye-opening, and Snowden, love him or hate him, gave up a damn good job for what appears to be, to him at the very least, a calling of the conscience.

He’s been in the Moscow airport for a month. His tab at T.G.I.Friday’s must be through the roof.

It almost makes you think twice about being brainwashed by technology.

What secret documents?

What secret documents?

The evolving story of the Empire State gunman, the most recent people shooter in the limelight

August 31, 2012

No shooting signs are always a bit funny, as you can just imagine a maniacal killer sadly observe the sign, then mope back home with his arsenal. Naturally, gun control debates fill the Internet as proponents of either side stink up cyberspace with ill-informed slippery slope arguments.

When I woke up last Friday morning, my tin can AM radio, which I had turned on the previous night to help me sleep, was telling me that a crazed gunman had fired, seemingly indiscriminately, upon a crowd outside the Empire State Building in New York City.

My first muttered thought, groggy, pre-caffeine and perhaps a bit irreverent, was, “Didn’t we just have one of these things?”

Which is to say that over a brief period of time, we’ve seen synagogues shot up, then movie theaters, and empty-headed shooters who attempted to copy the latter offender. It seems pretty dense. Our timeline of infamous shootings, which for most of us begins with the Columbine shooting of 1999, has been rather full in the past decade plus, but they have historically seemed to be a bit more spread out, chronologically.

So what’s accelerating this process?

Early reports told the horrific story of a mass shooting that injured 12 and killed four. As the day rolled on, we learned that the shooter had returned to his former employer’s office to shoot an ex-coworker. As he left the scene, he was followed by a construction worker, who called the police. The man fired upon police, and they fired back. Two were killed in the crossfire.

At least that was the story Friday afternoon. Fast-forward to Saturday, and we knew that all of what had become nine wounded were injured by police gunfire. The man may not have fired at all.

It’s a different story than the one I pondered as I poured my first cup of coffee that morning and tried to shake the slumbery cobwebs out of my brain. Early reports of a random, senseless killing, were distressing in that “Can’t we all just get along?” sort of way. What has made this society so violent? And why is it happening more and more often?

The fact that the gunman only intended to kill one man fell short of a relief, but made it a little better. At least there was some understandable motive, rather than yet another madman haphazardly firing upon strangers. It still weighed heavily on me all day.

What do you say about an incident such as this? The obvious selection of words would at least make a passing mention that you really shouldn’t go around shooting people.

And you shouldn’t. It’s easy to say, and I’m sure countless columns and blogs that echo this sentiment litter the internet.

It hits me a bit weird as a cap on the end of the “What does it all mean?” sort of phase I started just about the time I heard Mitt Romney solemnly promise to the NAACP that he would get rid of Obamacare. What an idiot, I thought. Then, I found out that an old SJSU classmate of mine, Marti Malloy, had won an Olympic medal for Judo. I was proud, amazed, that someone I sat across from in my earliest Journalism classes was making the front page of the paper.

After the fellow in Colorado shot up the theater at the midnight premiere of the new “Batman,” I saw a guy dressed like, and looking reasonably similar to, Batman on the Paseo de San Antonio in Downtown San Jose. A police officer, trying to get the man’s attention, yelled “Hey” twice, before begrudgingly hollering, “Hey … Batman!” and commencing the frisking/sobriety testing festivities.

What really does it all mean? Ack.

Of course, pro- and anti- gun folk are doing their best to use these recent shootings as an example. Second amendment advocates suggest that laws that prohibit guns simply disarm law-abiding citizens and lay them bare for crazed shooters who don’t observe the laws anyway, while those on the other end of the spectrum suggest that this is proof that we need tighter control over guns.

Personally, I think everyone’s full of shit on this one. Issuing guns like party favors arms everyone so they may defend themselves against lunatics, true, but how many people react rationally in situations such as  these? Scared shitless people become complete idiots.  If a bunch of NYPD’s finest, trained professionals and expert marksmen, wounded nine pedestrians in an attempt to take down a crazed gunman, how many would be murdered by  your average, scared-shitless, Joe?

On the other hand, there is a second amendment for a reason. It’s not easy to control gun use, and stricter laws and more control are not always the answer, and it doesn’t seem right for all of the firepower, so to speak, to lie on the side of John Law. Disarm the public et al and then where are we?

The best form of recourse would be to stop producing so many damn psychos. Any ideas?

SF Golden Gate Bridge turns 75 — and, a note on things you can’t get at home

May 29, 2012

A common picture from the 75th Golden Gate Bridge celebration — an out-of-focus, night pic of the illusion of a fire waterfall dripping from the bridge itself. This one’s taken by my lovely Nadia.

People are rapidly becoming shut-ins, right? Blame video games, blame the Internet, blame cable TV or just blame society as a whole if you like. Whatever you blame, when we do all our shopping online and can’t even be bothered to leave the house to rent a movie, it’s tough to make a case that we’re not a bunch of loners who live in fear of human contact.

With that expressed, it’s just that much harder to explain the masses and masses of people who funneled into San Francisco last Sunday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the bridge’s construction — amongst them, for better or worse, me. Just what was it that broke people out of their comfy homes?

Well, to get to that answer, let’s look at what keeps people out of public in the first place. Why go to the movies when you can just download them in the comfort of your own home? Why set up a poker night when you can play online? Why play Xbox against a friend over beer when you can just connect with someone of like skill from anywhere in the world?

But I have to admit that it was irrational to feel pride in a structure, the construction of which I had less than nothing to do with … that was constructed before my father was even a glint in anyone’s eye.

At Crissy Field, in San Francisco, in a huge crowd that had amassed as near to the bridge as possible, we all listened to KFOG’s radio station, which was synched up with the first of the fireworks and was blaring out of a PA system. The first explosions provided the illusion of fire racing from either side of the bridge directly to the center. As the two streams of fire met, they began to cascade downward into a waterfall of fire, leaving the crowd at first hushed, then oohing and ahhing in wonder, not to mention pride in their golden landmark.

This is something you can’t do at home. Sure, fireworks may be as old as dirt, but you are never going to encounter a digital version of a fireworks show that has the same impact of a real-live one. It’s these little things we have to embrace and must be wary not to take for granted. Things like the air we breath and the wind on our face, or the feeling of cold-as-all-hell water at the beach. It’s so much easier to sit at home than, say, go to the beach or, say, sit through hours and hours of public transport. In short, it’s really easy to just stay on your butt.

One note, I’m not talking to fitness nuts and chronic joggers. We get enough of your preaching, don’t we? Just get out and be in the real world every once in a while.

I know I’ve simplified this. Pride based on geographical proximity to one’s residence was another big pull last Sunday. As KFOG trumpeted tunes about San Fran, crooning about the lights in the “citay” and being sure to wear some flowers in your hair, a bit of pride swelled up in me. and I’m just from San Jose.

It’s a damn fine, long suspension bridge, after all. But I have to admit that it was irrational to feel pride in a structure, the construction of which I had less than nothing to do with, that I merely have a vague geographical proximity to that was constructed before my father was even a glint in anyone’s eye.

As the last fireworks sounded and the stadium lights fired up to aid the crowd’s slow limp back home, we all seemed like some great united force marching toward, or away from, a common goal. That’s something you can’t get at home, either.

I’ll tell you what I can’t get at home that I could do without: inadequate public transit that left us stranded for hours. If I barely made it to the Bart by way of an inefficient method of waiting at bus stops, chasing busses, wandering down main streets and running like hell, occasionally screaming to the heavens, just imagine all the poor souls stuck in SF, sleeping on the grass.

If you tell everyone to take public transit, and make sure there’s enough to go around. Every bus I saw, including the ones that passed my stop for being too full and the one I finally ended up in, damn near had arms and legs hanging out the windows, along with faces pressed against the glass.

But that’s another blog for another day. If you’re gooooing to Saaaaan Fraaaaaan Cisco …

Obama’s in it with Captain Planet

February 28, 2012

We're here with Obama to stop you Americans from driving the cars you want to drive. Get a clown car, dammit!

First off, I’d like to illustrate that smart cars are pure choices of economy — fuel economy. They are neither cheap nor pretty. Every time I see one, I half expect it to either lose its bearings and roll backwards down a hill or pull over and let endless numbers of clowns pour out its doors.

Apparently, Americans love large cars and only drive anything smaller than a Hummer because of socialist Obama’s iron fist and his direct control of gas prices — to hear Newt Gingrich tell it, anyway.

President Obama, you see, is punishing Americans for not agreeing with him.

Let’s surmise what’s in Newt’s mind: The scene is a darkened oval office. A silhouette huffs back and forth across the eagle emblazoned upon the carpet. Finally a door opens. A figure enters, nervously.

“Sir?” the voice asks.

“The numbers?”

“Americans are still driving big cars. It’s so American. We just can’t stop them.”

“Can’t stop them, can’t I?” The figure steps into the light, to be revealed as President Obama, a sinister grin spreading across his face.

“Alright, then, let them drive their Hummers and their S.U.V.s. We’ll see who’s on top in a few weeks. Raise gas prices 30 cents. And leave me,” Obama snips as he returns to his chair and begins petting his fluffy and devious-looking white cat.

To say that Obama pulled strings to raise gas prices is similar to suggesting that the Salvation Army dresses guys up like Santa and sets them in front of stores with change buckets just to make fun of fat people.

Gingrich called hikes in gas prices, which have surpassed $4 per gallon, results of Obama’s policy, which is “a deliberate strategy of the left to punish the American people and get them to drive the kind of cars they want you to,” as reported in a Sunday article in the San Jose Mercury News.

Right. Obama and Captain Planet are in on an insidious plot to get Americans to drive gas-saving clown cars.

“The American People like big cars,” said Gingrich. “The American people should decide what kind of cars they should drive.”

What a bunch of shit.

First, any motivation I had to drive a large compensation vehicle left back when gas neared $3/gallon and we still used to actually get upset about these things.

The first time I put $20 into the tank and saw it less than half full, I started thinking about how to get around without driving.

Second, to say that Obama pulled strings to raise gas prices is similar to suggesting that the Salvation Army dresses guys up like Santa and sets them in front of stores with change buckets just to make fun of fat people.

Other than the rather pathetic attempt at political grandstanding, what really bothers me here is that Gingrich’s point-by-point counter of Obama’s Miami speech on energy proves something I wish would stop being true:

The environment is a political issue.

If you ask me, and no one ever does, it really should not be. Taxes are not specifically tied to Democrats. Politicians love them, and how could they not? It’s their bread and butter. The only real difference between the two primary parties is who they’d like taxes to come from and where they’d like them to go.

To put an issue like the environment down in the same mire as the rat’s nest of other mundane political issues is ridiculous. It may be fun to wave our signs now, but the environment is pretty serious shit. If we don’t pay some sort of attention to what we’re doing to this planet, it stands to reason that it may very well become the only issue, for everyone here on this rock called Earth.

Environmental activists have ruined it for everyone, with the most extreme of such going around tree-sitting and hollering about things whilst skewing statistics.  It becomes difficult to take them seriously and being “green” starts to seem like some kind of a game.

We really do need to figure out a few alternate methods of transportation. True, as opponents to the environment say, we are not running out of oil by any means.

On the contrary, there’s oil all over the place. We are, however, running out of easy-to-get oil. A lot of the stuff we’ve started drilling recently was previously passed on because the reserve wasn’t worth the time, money and effort of setting up oil rigs and pumping. Now, they are worth it. Doesn’t that seem somehow related to hiked prices?

All I really want to get at is that I would prefer not to be shoved suddenly into some transportation-free dark age while the earth, thoroughly fucked, begins to eat me.

Is that really such a political statement?

What do Kelly Clarkson and Oprah have in common?

February 11, 2012

Must ... obey ... celebrity ... endorsements ...

Let’s face it: the definitions of words just become obsolete after a while. For example, my vintage (read: old, dog-eared, too cheap to buy a new one) 1975 American Heritage dictionary describes a computer as “a person who performs mathematical computations.”

The secondary definition is a machine that calculates mathematics — especially an electronic one. Getting closer, but still not quite contemporary.

Ruminate, if you will. Consider that here in the 21st-century world, our idea of a computer has virtually nothing to do with computations of any type. If you’re done ruminating, I’ll suggest that a more appropriate 2012 definition for the “computer”  is “that thing which lets me get on Facebook, tag photos, and tweet things.”

I’d like to make a similar move to change the definition of “endorsement” to “a tendency of persons of a certain standing in the public eye to attempt to shovel their shoddy opinions onto the ‘regular’ population.”

When Oprah endorsed Obama in 2008, using her “very special episode of Oprah” voice, I thought “big whoop.” Of course, Oprah could have endorsed Michael Myers of the “Halloween” movies and still have been cheered as the best human on the planet.

Fast-forward to 2012, then, and see Kelly Clarkson endorse Ron Paul on a whim, because she liked a goofy speech he gave. I know this is month-old news, but it is, in my opinion, the best example of how the public should treat such announcements.

With Oprah's endorsement, this fellow might have a fighting chance to become president.

Pretend for a moment that Kelly Clarkson is even remotely the type of person you’d want political advice from. The kind of poor decision-making that allows an attempt to endorse a man with two first names who, even a month ago, didn’t have a chance in hell deserves the wrath of the pulsating mass of Twitter drones.

I dream of a time when celebrity voices only reach the end of the bar, as do ours. That goes for all the George Cloonies and Chuck Norrises out there.

For my health I hope Chuck didn’t somehow read that last sentence.

Perhaps it seems strange to be so hung-up on political endorsements, but it’s easy to have election-on-the-brain when the talk of the front page tends toward Romney and whatever his debilitating foot-in-mouth disease has most recently led him to say —  that he likes firing people or that the poorest americans have enough help. Granted, these comments were taken horribly out of context, but c’mon, Mitt, run comments by the ol’ brain before spilling them to the Ragged Population of the Bad Economy.

2012, then, has been all about election hype, and it’s hard to imagine a time when bickering republicans weren’t going more-American-than-though whilst Obama cries “Hey! Still here!”

I’m not saying a lot of stuff didn’t happen in 2011. It was a year sprinkled with new hits (End of Iraq war, death of Bin Laden, Tsunami in Japan) that nevertheless wasn’t afraid to fall back on the classics (unrest in the Middle East).

Perhaps it’s because of the variety of events contained within the year that it seems kind of unfair that the 2011 flavor left in our mouths, as we entered 2012, had to do with celebrity deaths and other such humdrum nonsense.

We found, after all, that death transformed Andy Rooney from an out-of-touch grandfather into an institution, the mourning of which is requisite to being called American. Thomas Edison, the man who gave us light, found Steve Jobs (the man who strong-armed other people into inventing computer hardware) catapulted into his ranks  as death took Jobs from sickly capitalist to visionary inventor.

I suppose I’ve digressed, as I usually do. The latest news has Romney winning polls left and right, and it’s not too surprising that a man with the ability to improve falling public opinion with a bit of campaign spending (poor Newt was so excited by his momentary lead) would be doing so.

In any event, I’d like to close this entry by announcing my endorsement of Ralph Nader for 2012. Those who point out that he’s not running lose points. Go Ralph.

Kim Jong Il is dead and blogs are pointless.

December 18, 2011

Pictured, from top to bottom, Farmer John, Spike, and the Mad Hatter, all hammering out unsolicited opinions on their blogs. And I'm no better.

Last year, I made a resolution to blog here more often. I’d link back to it, but you can actually just scroll down a bit and find it, which speaks pretty well for the level of blogging I’ve done in the last year.

Well under 10 posts. That’s my big improvement. Even old standby topics I usually never miss, such as bitching about consumerism after Black Friday, have gone un-commented by Longboard University.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been way the hell out of touch since I started my new warehouse job. Y’see, the holiday season is a helluva time to buy stuff, and here we are in the 21st century, where that happens online, and here I am, at a niche company called All Things Jeep, popping out packages like tomorrow won’t exist.

We’re talking six-days-a-week, baby, which is good for the bank account but will promptly end post Christmas.  My company sells what might be best called Jeep paraphernalia — bumper stickers, t-shirts, tire covers and the like.

Three things about this: One, a lot of Jeep customers, for whatever reason, seem to be named Deborah.

Two, I’ve been out of touch. I glance at  a “Time” article every now and again, but by and large, I’m pathetically unaware about what’s going on. The Smurfs could have been discovered to exist, running violently amok whilst leveling Chicago, and I’d be clueless.

Three: For my lack of attention to anything except packing boxes, and the subsequent lack of blogging and writing, the world has, surprisingly, not crumbled into a neat pile of smoldering ashes.

Today, I unwrinkled a newspaper and turned on the computer to discover, in this order, that Russia is the worst oil polluter in the world and that Kim Jong Il is dead.

The Internet needs your review of the new Lady Gaga like it needs my (very) occasional yammering on current events, like it needs a hole in its imagined head.

“I know something,” I said to me, excitedly, “and can therefore blog.”

OK, blog what? According to the Merc article, Russia leaks about one percent of the crude oil it produces, causing much more long-term damage than larger-scale, explosive oil spills. What do I say, “Bad Russia?”

As for Il, there is no indication as to which direction North Korea will take after his passing. What good would my feeble-minded guesses do anyone? Or should I merely point out the aforementioned fact?

I finally decided that I would not blog. Nevertheless, here I am blogging. But why do we blog? The Internet needs your review of the new Lady Gaga like it needs my (very) occasional yammering on current events, like it needs a hole in its imagined head.

Why, indeed, do we blog? The story I read about Il’s passing was followed by buckets of comments, expressing thoughtful ruminations on the leader’s death, such as, “May you rest in Hell,” and “Is Hell hot enough for you?” and “Good riddance to this evil son of a bitch.”

Then, of course, responses to the comments follow, perhaps expressing discontent with the vocal opinion of AmerikaFUKyea70702. Then, long comes PEACEluvr9, using questionable grammar to express confounding attitudes at odds with those of GarthBrooks69.

Of course, I had to sit down upon reading some of these comments, as they struck me with the revelation that blogs are perhaps somewhere north of pointless, and that, by extension, so am I. OK, I was already sitting down, but if I hadn’t been at the computer, I would have sat down. Or might not have.

I digress.  But what does it matter that I did digress? I’m not educating you in any way. If anything, I’m causing confusion. In fact, I won’t blame you in the least if you click away from this here blog. Go on to your other Internet business. Google “Britney Spears nip slip.” I understand completely.

Still here? Godammit, I told you to go online and look at Britney Spears’ breasts! What, they’re not good enough for you anymore? They sure cut the mustard when you were in middle school, what the hell changed?

I apologize for the preceding outburst. I was simply stricken by the hypocrisy I’m expressing for blogging, at length, a piece decrying blogs as absolute hogwash.

The truth is, though, that those of you who did not follow my instructions will not be rewarded by an earth-shattering shard of intellect cleverly reserved for the end of this post.

I’ll tell you what: I’ll keep reading your recipes for fruitcakes if you keep reading my periodic ramblings about nothing much in particular. Blogs will exist simply because they do. Exist, that is.

The point is that there is no point. What a terrific revelation. I can think of no better reason to keep blogging, can you?

9/11 nostalgia gone.

September 11, 2011

Even a few days after the 9/11 attack, people started getting goofy about it. This picture was mass e-mailed and taken, by many, at face value. It's a fake, dummy.

It’s been 10 years since Sept. 11 became an infamous date. Something about anniversaries that end in “0” revive the vigor of memories, which you’re forced to relive.

Last year, it felt to me as if everyone had basically forgotten about 9/11. This year, on the 10th anniversary, it does not. Because it’s been 10 years, and everyone now remembers like it was yesterday.

It alternately seems as if it happened yesterday or a million years ago, depending on the moment. The fact that simply watching a television special about 9/11 brought me right back to the depressing helplessness of 10 years ago speaks volumes.

My post last year about 9/11 now seems silly, and I can’t imagine feeling as if the weight of the attack had been carelessly disregarded by the people. This year, a somber feeling permeates the streets.

The gloom is, of course, a pale reflection of the collective grief of 2001, but there’s no arguing a sense of reverence and memorial that seems to blanket the country. It’s almost as if we’re all putting on a community college reenactment, perhaps a musical with the inclusion of some tasteless songs heavy-handedly inserted.

So what was the big difference between 9/11/10 and 9/11/11? What made it seem forgotten in the first place?

Perhaps no one ever really forgot, but it was an easy mistake to make. When people bitch incessantly about invasion of privacy at the airport because of a new x-ray gadget that enhances security, or a YouTube search may yield a collage of 9/11 disaster footage with “Yakety Sax” playing behind it, it seems as if some reverence has been lost in translation.

Consider that 10 years ago, people would have gladly been strip-searched to avoid terrorism, and the only kind of montages we had involved violin music and lots of cuts to images of the wind-furled American flag.

Today, even as our leaders abuse their positions for the sake of political grandstanding and cannot agree on anything, any nostalgia for the unity the disaster brought us is gone.

If I’ve been repeatedly concerned that our iPhones and Facebook accounts have allowed us to forget the atrocity, what I’d like us to do with the memory of it is questionable at best.

What does it mean to “Never Forget?” Does it mean hold a grudge against a whole race and religion? Does it mean to reinvigorate hatred toward people involved in centuries-old conflicts on the other side of the world that no one over here could possibly comprehend?

One thing 9/11 did was give us Americans a quick geography lesson. Unfortunately, all it turned out to be was the general understanding that a country called Afghanistan exists, and that we can just generally hate everyone in all the surrounding bits.

Never forget? Just what the hell is it we should never forget?

When the attack came, we were fat and happy and invincible. As a result of the attack, we’re somewhat on-guard, but slipping. Maybe that’s what we have to remember — that we shouldn’t forget. We can’t afford to get that fat and happy again.