Okay, now I have to see this movie.
Okay, now I have to see this movie.
"Get off my ass," I growled, glaring in the rear view mirror at the semi bearing down on my bumper. I was going the speed limit. "GET OFF MY ASS."
I had been saying this frequently all that day. In the four years since I have been on hiatus from the road it was obvious that the driving habits of Americans have deteriorated, especially the knowledge of the concept of "proper car lengths between your vehicle and the one in front of you." In short, this country has turned into a nation of assriders.
(By the way, I hereby pronounce this curse: may you all be consigned to the highways of hell being forced to run them at seventy-six miles per hour with a blazing hot mack truck's front engine rammed up your posterior sphincters.)
The way it came about was this: a while back, I mentioned that I had decided that I needed to get back on the road again. However, my budget was approximately zero dollars, so it would be a long time before I actually had enough money to acquire any sort of vehicle. (This was before I got laid off.)
Anyway, I received an email from Dr. Weevil, containing the news that he had a car available for a very low price (basically offering it to me for free); all I had to do was go to his place of residence and pick it up. There was just one problem: he lives in North Carolina, and I live in Florida. Oh wait, did I say problem? The Amtrak still runs, doesn't it? Yes it does, and a ticket to Raleigh from Orlando is under fifty bucks if you don't splurge on a sleeping car. So I bought a ticket.
The train trip was supposed to take ten hours overnight. It actually took twelve or so, owing to delays, but I had been warned about those. What I hadn't been warned about was that it was not actually very comfortable sleeping on the train, and that Amtrak sells booze. I didn't indulge (the hot dog I bought gave me enough sticker shock), but a very large, round man and his lady companion did their best to drain the train dry, and then wandered for a bit (with full glasses of red wine) up and down the cars moaning drunkenly "where is our seat?" They must have found it, because they finally vanished.
Finally the train stopped at Raleigh and I crawled out, half frozen because they keep the train at meat-locker temperature. Dr. Weevil was there to pick me up. He'd brought the car.
Here it is:
It's in much better shape than I thought -- the good Dr. made it sound like a creaky old dent-bucket. Well it does have dents, but I don't care about that. Come on. Free (almost) car.
There was just one little problem:
I will have Part 2 of Miss Harris' Wild Ride up later. Right now I have a complaint.
Bloggers often complain that they are not taken seriously by Big Deal For-Pay Writers in the tradmedia.* Therefore whenever some old crusty pro who sees a threat to his by-the-word paycheck on the horizon writes some outdated and inaccurate smear of blogs because it takes him a week to crank out a three-point essay, we get all het up and write angry rebuttals.
That's all very well and good, but I suggest that neither the pro writers nor the amateur bloggers have actually confronted the real problem of blogs, and that is this: bloggers have this cute little habit of falling in love with a word or a phrase, and then using it until the very sight of it induces irritation and the immediate desire, at least on my part, to throw my computer in the nearest lake and take up some other sort of hobby, such as outdoor backgammon or scrubbing the tile grout in my bathroom. However, in the interests of time I will focus on the most annoying word, the one that was the literal straw to my camel's back. That word is:
Fellate. This is a fancy word for sucking on a man's penis. Why the good old phrases "blow job" and "oral sex" won't do I don't know -- while references to this sex technique are themselves used with far too much frequency as a substitute for a more eloquent and less obscene way to indicate contempt for someone, at least those two phrases don't have an uncomfortable resemblance to "fillet." After seeing the word "fellate" and its various tenses approximately 5,897,345 times in blog posts and comment threads I know I'll never be able to look at a plate of butterflied pork chops the same way again.
One more thing: I think the sad thing is bloggers use the word because they think it's shocking and they are trying to be forceful to some sort of imaginary bourgeois schoolmarm. People. It's 2007. "Ass" and "bitch" and references to semen and cervical tearing from rape are accessible to preteens on A&E (CSI: Miami being a major provider of much of this must-know anatomical knowledge). Preteens are wearing clothing advertising that they are sexually ready. It's not shocking, it just makes you look obsessed and rather unimaginative.
*tradmedia -- "traditional media." I made that up just now, or maybe I read it somewhere. I demand that everyone immediately substitute this word for the overused and inelegant "MSM."
Update: I don't read those kinds of blogs either. That's the problem. For example, there you are, looking for some pithy political commentary on an outrageous situation, and you're hit in the eye (figuratively speaking, people!) with this sort of thing. There isn't enough soap in the world to clean my brain now, are you all happy?
For a brief, shining moment in the musical history of France, they produced composers such as Delibes and Debussy. Fast-forward to the 21st century.
And what the hell is it with the French and accordions?
To me, the most disturbing thing Al Gore says as recounted in this article is the following, to the question "Who's the most amazing person you've ever met?":
“Nelson Mandela. He’s a hoss[.]”
I'm... not gonna go there.
(Via Tim Blair.)
(I'll get around to the rest of the Road Trip saga soon. I've been feeling a bit under the weather.)
Sorry, folks -- I know you are all (well, a couple of you) waiting with bated breath for me to finish the thrilling saga of my trip home with my "new" car, but you'll have to wait a little bit longer. Thanks to the approaching date of my menopause, my monthlies are starting to have a bit of fun with my innards. This month my nerves have decided to act up -- I have actually had to take a couple of Benadryl to keep the twitchy tremblies down. Of course, now I am barely able to keep my eyes open, so it's nap time.
I have news for the people at CRACKED -- who seem genuinely shocked underneath the sarcastic humor -- but people did indeed know about the "Holy shit, this stuff fucking kills you" aspect of tobacco back in the Seventies, and even before then. The famous Surgeon General's warning has been on cigarettes in this country since the mid-Sixties, but even before then people were under no illusion that smoking caused health problems. My parents, for instance, knew that it wasn't fresh air and sunshine that made them hack up their lungs every morning (the sound was my alarm clock in my early childhood years). The difference was people didn't care. No, change that -- people had weighed the difference between the pleasures of smoking, and the pleasures of a life free of gobs of brown mucus in the sink, yellow fingers, and premature wrinkles, and made choices accordingly in the manner of a free people. I, for instance, chose all by myself to breathe in air rather than smoke, and I did it all despite being surrounded by the dreaded "peer pressure" (and the contradictory need to appear adult and cool) that was supposed to program us all like so many robots. Lord knows I hate to say one word of praise for the Seventies, but I must admit that back then we weren't quite so terrified of dying as we are now. The fact that we survived the Seventies should actually be evidence that we are made of sterner stuff than HillaryCare & Co. want us to realize...
(Via Kathy Shaidle.)
I pulled over into the nearest parking lot and coasted into an empty space. I managed to actually shut off the engine properly instead of stalling it out.
I'd been driving about three hours, and I was still in Raleigh.
I opened my map and tried to make sense of the different colored lines and highway numbers. I was pretty sure I knew how to read a map in Florida, but for some reason that part of my brain had decided to shut down. Eventually I located a road that seemed to head both south and west, and connect with US 1, which was still my goal. I folded up the map and started up the car.
After stalling several times, I finally got back on the road. The other vehicles, sensing my weakness, gathered around me. I wondered if hitting someone in the back of their car was an automatic no-fault accident for the hittee in North Carolina as it was in Florida. I certainly hoped so.
Eventually I encountered a fork in the road, some confusing highway signs with numbers, and a sign welcoming me to Garner. I had seen this sign about five times so I decided that the way I usually turned there had been wrong, and decided to go the other way. Despite the fact that it was a lovely afternoon of clear skies I didn't notice the direction of the sun, only that I wanted it out of my eyes. I seemed to be heading vaguely south. For a while I bowled along down one-lane roads through suburbaney countryside interspersed with small towns. I finally began to feel like I was finally out of Raleigh. Eventually I entered another small town. These small towns, by the way, were real headaches for me, because that meant I would have to change gears. I had a special problem with first gear. I began to tire. I noticed that the small town was named "Clayton."
People who know the environs of Raleigh will know that I was not going in the direction of US 1, but away from it.
That wasn't the problem I had with Clayton, though. The problem was the fact that though I had left the city behind as rush hour commenced, for some reason this town was a real traffic hub. I kept stalling the car, and finally pulled over on the side of the road, in a parking space, to rest, telling myself that I'd wait until the spate of cars eased. That proved to be a mistake.
I was stuck there for an hour.
Car after truck after car whizzed by, or else sat there as traffic ground to a halt, trapping me there in my parking spot on the side of the road. I began to lose it. The sun was starting to set, and I was nowhere near getting out of North Carolina.
Finally I was able to get the car into a gap in traffic and get out of town. But I was exhausted. I managed to make it to Selma, where I found a hotel. Once I was in my room I took out my map, and found out I was going southeast instead of southwest. If I kept in the direction I was going I'd end up on I-95, and I still stubbornly wanted to take US 1 instead. So I decided I that in the morning I would take the road I had been traveling on (the 301, or maybe it was the 701 -- all the signs said "301" but the map labeled it "701"), until I got to route 421, which if followed back northwest would take me to US 1. Plans made, I went to bed.
The next day I was on the road again, and after stopping in Newton Grove for breakfast at a little old diner where people smoked indoors (the anti-smoking nazis don't seem to have made much of a headway in Tobacco Country), I continued on my merry way through North Carolina. I was convinced that this time I was headed in the right direction, and would get to US 1 in no time. I felt better about the ride -- the weather was still beautiful (the morning air was actually cool! the humidity was low!), the countryside the very dictionary definition of "bucolic," and traffic light. I thought a couple of times -- when I passed through the occasional town -- of pulling out the map and making sure I was going in the right direction, but I decided not to. I was sure I was going in the right direction.
Around noon I found myself in Elizabethtown.
To be continued...
I must beg to differ with The American Princess: Bruce Springsteen is by no means "a fantastic songwriter and a great musician" unless we are to rewrite the standards of musical excellence to include "singing" that brings to mind nothing so much as a bout of extra-intense straining on the toilet, coupled with dull sub-folk-rock clangor and pretentiously overblown lyrics that attempt to marry the dull and seedy lives of northeastern urban provincials to half-baked Rimbaudish poetical stylings. One might well ask "where is the Tristan und Isolde of late-Seventies thud-rock?"
(Via Kathy Shaidle.)
Update: I've never actually read any Rimbaud, but I've always heard that he appealed to the macho-male contingent of the American male pseudo-intellectual brigade which is why I threw his name in there. And what do you know, I was right. Remove all that pansy stuff about longing for the "aged ramparts of Europe" and black cold pools in scented twilight, grind everything down to a teenager's vocabulary, and you have everything Springsteen has ever written.
Last update, then I am done with this nonsense: what is it with rabid fans of whoever? I write that I cannot stand so-and-so's music, and I get lectured on how "unfair" I am for my dislike for reasons I never gave in my post. And then I get a list of songs and lyric samples as if, because I parodied the title of one of said singer's songs for the title of my own post, my problem was really with that one song despite what I actually wrote in the post. In short, why can't Bruuuuuce Fans read?
Here's the thing: I do not like Bruce Springsteen. I do not like him on my record player. I do not like him on my radio. I do not like him on cd; I would not like a dvd. I do not like him with my eggs; I cannot drink from enough kegs. I will not "instead" listen to "just this song"; I will not, WILL NOT play along. I won't take him in a box; I don't care how much he rocks. I don't like the music he plays; I don't like the words his songs say. I don't like the way he sings; nor his band nor anything. I do not like this Bruce Springsteen!
What did I tell you? I'm not the only one who sees the Hillary campaign for prez as what it is: a shameless bid to the large component of the American public that swoons over the idea of having "their" president (that is, the male half of the Billary) back in the White House.
Or as I have said elsewhere:
I know plenty of people who would vote for her just to get him back. These people are convinced that Bill Clinton was a great president. See, instead of being some sort of Big Daddy authority figure, he was just like them—sexually loose, obsessed with being liked, eager to win over the MTV generation, and rock stars and actors just lurved him (and we all know that celebrities are today’s saints and heroes).
They may not like Hilary all that much or even believe in anything she espouses. But they are so desperate to get eight more years of the Big He that they’ll vote for her. And you want another cold finger of doom up your spine? Chelsea Clinton is 27 years old. She’s old enough to run for office, and in less than ten years she’ll be old enough to run for president. You think daddy won’t be there to offer his “help and advice”? The best thing we can hope for is all those Big Macs catch up with the bastard.
It's a bad thing to awaken my contempt for my fellow citizens. Now I'll be in a bad mood for the rest of the weekend.
(Previous link also via Kathy Shaidle.)
Steve H. continues to agonize over the inability of conservatives to be funny, whereas liberal comedians are raining down upon the earth like one or more Biblical plagues. I don't agonize, though, because I think I have it figure out: liberals are British and conservatives are French. Stay with me. The French, despite their outwardly loose moral style, are at base conservative and serious, which is another way of saying humorless -- by which I mean they don't really "get" things like irony and absurdism. In fact the French tend to judge people by whether they are "serieux" or not (which word in French has more important connotations such as integrity and reliability than the word has come to have in English). On the other hand, where would the British be without their talents for irony and an appreciation of the absurdities of life? That's the only way they've been able to get along stuck on that island with each other for so many centuries. And liberals are, if nothing else, anxious to get along with everyone else. But the French could care less about such jejune concerns.
It has to be true: look at French pop culture -- it's absolutely dreadful, most of it borderline retarded. The famous love of the French for Jerry Lewis is one well-known example -- but just look up "French pop culture" and you'll realize that they've come up with plenty of their own dreck. On the other hand, when it comes to real art, the French can't be beat -- at least in the visual arts, music has lagged somewhat though there is Delibes, etc. On the other hand, the British have gotten pop culture down pat, they practically invented it. Their serious "real" culture on the other hand has never risen to what it was in Shakespeare's day, bright spots here and there notwithstanding. But what do we think about when the words "British music" are uttered -- Holst, or the Beatles?
(Note: part of this post is part of a comment I left on Steve H.'s post -- he moderates, so it hasn't shown up yet, and I wanted to share my wisdom with all of you, my loyal readers.)
I'm apparently unemployed because of slavery.
Hey man, I just find these things on the in-tard-net, I don't make them up:
We can only hope you understand that in a country in which the legacy of slavery has sentenced a colossal swath of the population to unemployment[...]
Well, she didn't say what segment of the population made up this "colossal swath," so I can only assume us white girls get to play! So where's my reparation money, bitches?
(Via Kathy Shaidle.)
In the Bearded Spock universe, criticizing the Democrats for using sick children to flog their socialist "a doctor in every pot" health plan, is actually attacking the children. Of course, what really irritates these people is the fact that anyone with half a brain saw through this ploy to the relatively wealthy business owner complete with high-priced suburban home that actually provided the sick children. As many sensible people -- cough, excuse me, fascist child-molesting rightwing haters -- have pointed out, the family in question apparently chose not to avail themselves of many affordable health plans, and have tried to pass this off as "we couldn't find anything we could afford."
I've been reading a lot on blogs and so on about the scary juggernaut that the Democratic party is turning into, but this sort of reaction isn't that of winners -- it stinks instead of desperate loser flop-sweat. You know, lefties, it's kind of hard to convince people that you're the righteous, ethical ones when you're busy pissing on our heads and telling us it's raining.
Update: (via Kathy) we're here, we're queer, get used to it! On a side note, when pondering the seeming paradox of gay-bating progressives we should recall the sort of treatment homosexuals received in that star example of the communist way of life, the Soviet Union. GLBT's who throw their lot in with leftists should especially keep this in mind.
Rules that the Al Gore Global Warming fearfest "An Inconvenient Truth" contains at least eleven material falsehoods and the film will not be allowed to be shown in schools unless this fact is explained to the viewers.
(Via LauraW at Ace of Spades HQ.)
Sorry, didn't mean for this site to go back to low-level blogging. It's just that there's something wrong with me -- either my allergies have decided to go up to phasers-on-kill mode, or I've got some kind of low-level virus that saps my energy and makes me feel like someone punched me several times in the face. I've been taking the fake decongestant because I ran out of the stuff I had to show ID for, and of course it doesn't work. Antihistamines just make me feel woozy. Etc. etc.
Anyway. I need to wrap up the car trip tale, because I said I would. I had left things with me piloting the Spleenmobile into Elizabethtown, which if you look at a map of North Carolina you will see is east of I-95. Exactly the opposite direction to where I wanted to go, which was west of I-95 to US 1. I didn't even remember the I-95 overpass though I must have gone under it at some point. I was a day behind schedule -- I had planned to be in Florida already. Here I was still in North Carolina, not far from where I had started. I still couldn't get the car in first gear without several tries, having to restart the car, etc... I began to wish I'd put a sign in the back window: "First-time Stick Shift Driver, Please Be Patient."
Elizabethtown seemed to have one main road, lined with a small number of stores, a couple of restaurants, etc. There was a worn metal historical sign saying something about the Tories having had something done to them during the Revolutionary War, which was a change from the usual "on this day" Civil War-era stuff you see all over the South. I had decided to stop acting like my father and ask for directions, since using my own brain was apparently not working. I found a cafe that was about to close, and asked how to get to US 1. But when the kind people at the place heard I was going to Florida they all told me that what I really wanted to do was take I-95.
Obviously the fates were against me.
So I decided to just take my chances and take the expressway. At least there would be more than one lane. I could stick to the right lane and let the speed freaks pass me on the others. So off I went, through miles and miles of more charming bucolic countryside, passing the occasional dead deer by the side of the road. And wouldn't you know it, when I got on the expressway it was smooth sailing, as I could stay in fourth gear. Yes, I should have taken I-95 all along. Derr! And in a few hours I saw the "Welcome to South Carolina" sign, and gave a little cheer. Finally!
Everything was fine until I needed to find another hotel. I stayed on the road as long as I could but I didn't want to drive after dark. I'm not night blind but I knew I wouldn't be able to drive all night and didn't really want to have to look for a place in an unfamiliar state at night. Every once in a while the solid wall of pines on either side of the road would give way to signs advertising hotels. So I pulled off an exit which promised about six or seven of the things. But when I got off the exit the only hotel I saw was a Great Western. At least it promised wifi, and had a Denny's. But it was also over $75.00 a night, as I found out when I pulled in and waited for the desk clerk to acknowledge my presence. As I didn't feel like spending so much money just for free wifi and a Denny's, I decided to look for another hotel. I figured I would try east along the road off the exit instead of going any further down the highway. So I drove, and drove, and drove. And the land became flatter, and marshier, and I began to smell salt.
I began to suspect an evil conspiracy to drive me into the ocean's gray, salty maw.
Just when I was about to turn back, I finally saw some hotels. I was exhausted and it was dark by this time, and I had already gone over a couple of bridges -- more on that later. So I pulled in to the nearest hotel and got a room, as well as a long story from the desk clerk -- an older lady from New York State who had moved down to the South because the people were so friendly -- about how all these movies had been filmed in the town I was in, which turned out to be Beaufort. I had to inform her that I had never seen Forest Gump. (By the way, I figured out then why hotel rooms were so expensive -- I was near the beaches, and Parris Island, and towns where famous movies had been filmed. My luck.) The hotel room was still more than I wanted to pay but it was cheaper than the Great Western.
The rest of the trip was without incident. I didn't get lost anymore, and I managed to make it across several scary bridges without having a heart attack. The bridge fear is a new and worrying one -- I have never liked bridges like the Skyway that goes over Tampa Bay, but otherwise bridges didn't used to bother me. I used to drive almost every day across the Intercoastal Waterway bridges when I lived in Miami, and several times across the St. John's River bridge up here. But I have become increasingly fearful and timid -- now instead of merely disliking heights, I become heart-poundingly afraid on stairs, in elevators, on escalators, and now driving across bridges. I put that down to not driving for four years. I really should not have let that go for so long. I feel almost as inexperienced driving as I did when I first started, when I was in my early twenties. That isn't good. Of course, this is the first time I had ever driven a stick for any length of time, so that didn't help.
One more thing: the expressway interchanges in Jacksonville looked like they were designed by M.C. Escher. I almost ended up in Tallahassee. But I made it home, and the cats were fine. So that was one more hurdle over and done with: I had a car. Now I just have to get used to driving it in city traffic.
I am a...
(Via Lilac Rose.)
A lot of people think of Mark Steyn as being a sycophantic toady of the current American Way of Life. Those people should, but probably won't, read his rundown of what he sees as the various distortions that have compromised the American justice system. It's a pretty damning list, and rings true to me. I will admit I don't know a great deal about the runnings of my own country's justice arm (it's all just too complex for my poor feeble mind, which I might add is a major problem of the system as well -- it shouldn't have become this complicated for an ordinary layperson to even think of thinking about). But I've seen and heard enough. I especially know about the many shenanigans which the RICO act has made possible -- when you grow up in a major hub of the Drug Wars, in this case Miami, you can't avoid learning a little. And I heard too many anecdotes about families getting their vehicles and homes and whatnot confiscated by the feds because unbeknownst to them a relative had been involved in the drug trade. The lesson that "innocent until proven guilty" has become optional couldn't have been made clearer. Since I am a timid person by nature I am law-abiding, but I can see how someone with less of an desire not to draw attention to themselves could become embittered and cynical and, eventually, a lawbreaker themselves just for the sheer hell of it, because of this sort of thing. And everyone in Miami at least had friends, or friends of friends, who were involved in illegal drugs in some fashion -- the place was, and still is, awash in all sorts of stuff. I am rather rare in that I've never touched anything stronger than bourbon.
I'm ambivalent about the current laws regarding drugs. On the one hand, prohibition has given rise to opportunistic criminality, and ruined large swaths of several countries that are the source of the drugs so many Americans are willing to pay lots of money for. And junkies and cokeheads and so on are tiresome to be around, and are a parasitic drain on society. On the other hand, legalization may cut down somewhat on the criminal activity, but criminals are nothing if not inventive, and they'll find ways to circumvent the law in order to maximize their profits. Because legal drugs will be taxed, you can count on that. And as well, the repeal of the prohibition against liquor may have cut down on the bootlegging business, but that business still exists, and a large part of it has to do with the desire to not pay taxes. Also, legalizing drugs, far from solving the problem of drug abuse, will only exacerbate it. The only difference will be that the druggie will no longer be a criminal for his drug use. But addiction to anything, legal or not, diminishes the moral faculties of the addicted. Drugs will still cost money, and there will still be hardcore users who spend all their money on drugs and end up living in the streets and making havoc. Legalizing drugs would just shift the problem to a different area.
Your past life diagnosis:
I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation.You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Scotland around the year 950. Your profession was that of a banker, usurer, moneylender or judge.
Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
As a natural talent in psychology, you knew how to use your opportunities. Cold-blooded and calm in any situation.
The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
The timid, lonely and self-confident people are everywhere, and your task is to overcome these tendencies in yourself and then to help other people. Do you remember now?
Well, I seem to have left any financial acumen back in the tenth century, but everything else... Hmm....
Actually, I'm not as skeptical as Kathy is about Michael Totten's claim that he hasn't met more than two natives of the Middle East who were "ruder and more openly intolerant than Ann Coulter." Several factors are probably at play here. One is the fact that countries where your life literally depends on not pissing off the people around you tend to place a higher premium on politeness than more freewheeling Western countries. Especially when it comes to women, for whom the list of what is considered "rude" behavior is eons long. Women in Western nations can't seem to grasp what a privileged and special position they hold in the worldwide scheme of things -- there are no Ann Coulters among the female population of the Middle East (except, possibly, in Israel, which is a Western nation in everything but geography) because it simply isn't allowed.
Of course I realize Totten wasn't referring to the women in the Middle East -- I doubt he's been able to speak to all that many women anyway. But men there also practice an almost obsequious politeness that usually leaves Westerners bowled over, and they often come away with the mistaken impression that that means that Middle Eastern culture is more civilized than their own. On the contrary, excessive politeness simply means it's too dangerous to speak your mind, especially to strangers, because there's a very good chance that saying the wrong thing will end up in blood being shed. Coulter critics trembling in shock at her caustic frankness would do well to remember that no matter how many mean things she says about them, at least she isn't going to kill them. Or perhaps the soft-muscled males who seem to be at the forefront of those who are constantly shocked, yes shocked, at the shocking things that shocking young woman is always saying really do think she's one hair-trigger away from going postal. Hey, it could happen. (Oh man up, nancies, I was just kidding. I think.)
Well, I have established that the things that draw people to this site are my posts about my boring personal life, those dumb internet quizzes, and Ann Coulter. Does that mean I have to read her column now? Maybe I'll just look up more quizzes. Do they have one for "which disease are you?"
Well of course they do. Result:
|What Disease Are You?|
You Are Heart Disease!
You are one of the various varieties of Cardiovascular disease, which means you are lovable and make people laugh. You are genuinely a great person, charitable and playful. It's hard to not be your friend. But seriously, please cut down on the saturated fats, I only mention this because I'm worried about your health.
Take this quiz!
Anyway. I think my cold is back -- the one I was getting a few days before I went up to North Carolina to get the car. I dosed myself with those zinc lozenges, despite the skepticism of some readers. I don't know if they worked or not, but it can't do any harm to take a few again.
Actually, I don't know what is wrong with me -- today I had a weird achy shoulder and neck (the left side), and weird pains in my finger joints, and was too tired to go anywhere. I think I'll just call my condition "mystic fibrosis" after something I think I read on a comment thread on Protein Wisdom. It's really putting a crimp in my life -- I need to get out there and really pound the pavement filling out applications and things (no, I still don't have a job), and I can't afford to be sick.
Speaking of no job, I am putting out a bleg. The severance pay has finally run out, and while I'm on unemployment it's barely adequate to cover rent. And though I've been keeping tabs on it the price of gas still is something of a shock -- when I quit driving it took about twenty dollars to fill the tank of a compact Toyota, and now that I'm driving a car with the same size tank (another compact Toyota), it takes almost forty dollars to completely fill it up. That's one reason I haven't gone driving all over the place since I got back -- I can't really afford the gas usage at this time. Thank God it's a stick, and we're coming into a bout of "cool" weather (overnight lows in the sixties, it will only get up to the low eighties in the daytime, and believe me that sort of weather makes Floridians break out the sweaters and complain), so I have that going for me. So, er, you know, over there on the right side of the menu...
More later. Time for tea and toast.
Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize, for his amazing knack for driving people who would otherwise lead calm, unruffled lives into spasms of teeth-gnashing, incandescent fury. I used to be one of them, but not anymore. Instead, I'm just going to sit back and watch the fun. Lots of links here, and here. As one commenter says here, who wants to bet he flies over to Oslo in his private jet to pick up the prize?
Update: who could forget the dreaded scourge of ManBearPig?
Michelle Malkin has further revelations about the Frosts, the Democratic spokesfamily for the supposed need for more taxpayer-funded health entitlements. It turns out they are the kind of "buy now, think about how to pay for it later" people that I am quite familiar with, having been one for too many years myself. I'm still crawling out from under the life-wasting results of my years as a big spender with a tiny income. I will say, though, that at least I didn't make the mistakes these people made. I rent, so there is no house to lose to foreclosure, and after my last new car was repossessed I didn't drive for nearly four years. I'm much more realistic about my needs and goals, and I didn't go to the government for handouts. This apartment I now rent is income restricted, but it's the most expensive apartment I've lived in yet -- and I plan not to renew the lease when it comes due in May. And there is just me and two cats -- I have no children to be responsible for.
Anyway, enough about me. Let me tell you about my family. My father was kind of a "lovable goofball" like Frost père -- he would rather party, hang out with friends, and go to bars than work hard (one reason he became a teacher was the hours, and the summers off, when he'd find odd jobs until the county implemented all-year pay for teachers in the public school system). But you know what? He managed to hold down a steady job (he was contracted to the school), and though we didn't have a lot of luxuries we always had enough food to eat and clothes to wear and the entire family was insured via his insurance. And we had one house, one car -- which was used, and which my parents kept until the thing literally fell apart, whereupon they bought another used car -- and until my parents bought a tiny black and white for their bedroom, one television. And both I and my sister, after (for me) one year in a private school, went to public school. We were expected to do our homework and make the best grades we could. Of course there was no internet to screw around with, no video games, and television was mostly for grownups except on Saturday mornings, and there weren't very many channels anyway. Our house wasn't worth a lot of money either -- it was a broken-down old 20s "Boomer" wood frame that ended up succumbing to termites, and it didn't have any air-conditioning. My parents weren't at all concerned with coddling me and my sister -- we had a huge shade tree in the front yard to cool the house, and if we got hot we could turn on the fan. They had no trouble saying "no" to our requests for toys and other things that cost money if we couldn't afford it -- when it came to credit I think my parents had a Sears card and an American Express and an account with Fingerhut.
And even today it is still possible to live the life of a "lovable goofball" complete with wife and kids and still live within your means if you are willing to forgo the fancy cars and the private schools and the huge, swollen modern home. Fewer and fewer people are willing to do this, though, because more and more people are spoiled brats who think they are entitled to live the luxe life on someone else's dime.
One more thing: the Frosts' insurance shenanigans remind me of why I got out of the insurance business. I got so tired of hearing Entitled-Americans bitch, moan, and complain about having to pay for their own mistakes. So they had two at-faults and three NAFs and a reckless driving on their record -- why couldn't they get the best rate anyway? And so they missed their last two payments and had their insurance canceled and waited past the thirty-day mark which meant a whole new policy had to be rewritten instead of just reinstating the current policy, which of course meant they'd have to put a new down payment instead of just making up the payments they'd missed. Unfair unfair! And why is insurance so high in Orlando? Why should they have to pay higher rates because rates had gone up across the board? And so on. You know what? When I went for insurance recently I didn't bitch and moan at the cost. I just got a few quotes, and went for the cheapest one which would still give me sufficient coverage. People have the mistaken impression that they can get what they want by screaming and crying, because this is probably how they were raised -- coddled by overindulgent parents terrified of not being their offsprings' "friends." The customer is always supposed to be right, but that notion came from a time when the customer was a grownup who had a lick of sense, not babies who think the world owes them a living.
(Via Kathy Shaidle.)
One more thing: screaming "that's mean!" does absolutely nothing to advance the debate, never mind solving the problem. All it does is make the one screaming it look like a child who has been told something he doesn't want to hear. Again. And so what if it's "mean" to point out these facts, some of which are yes, very hard to hear? How many times can I say it: Life. Is. Not. Fair. Life, in fact, is often "mean" and even cruel. I can tell you there's one place where everyone has no problems: the cemetery.
I kant unseed what I sawded. EVAR.
I am not only right-brained, but I think my left brain must be completely shut down. The article says I should be able to make the animation go anti-clockwise by "focusing" on it, but no matter how hard I concentrate it just keeps going clockwise. (According to the article, left-brained people see the animation go anti-clockwise, right-brained people see it go clockwise.)
I like Bill Quick's new blog. It's all about mid-century interior decor, of which I've become quite a fan. I get so sick of stupid boring politics.
Yes, I'm still among the living. I'm at the house of a friend for a couple of days tending to things while she recovers from a piledriver of a cortisone shot to the back. Ow.
(The Firefox spellcheck claims that "piledriver" isn't a word. Is too.)
I have my laptop here, so I'll be checking in from time to time. I might even write something.
Or does Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock's The Birds not look just like Paris Hilton? (That thick, smooth, non-moving lower lip, always set in a sort of Etruscan half-smile -- like she just got back from the dentist and the novocaine hasn't worn off.)
Also, do they have Paris Hilton masks for Halloween? That'd be a much scarier costume than the old Nixon mask standby.
Patrick Swayze boxing in white pants. Lots of explodey stuff. Deep profound talk about a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, which is apparently fight with a GAY GAY GAY posturing fake-fu dude wielding the Pool Cue of Doom. The bad guy calls the good guy's friend a "draft dodger" and wears a hat, whereas the good guys let their 80s locks flow free in the breeze. It must be... Roadhouse!
(Yes, I am still at my friend's house.)
Update: to punish them, I watched the Doctor Who episode that was on BBC America tonight. I did not watch the BBC News America show though (motto: "Bow down and worship the BBC News! Worship! Worship!") -- there are limits that I will not cross even to counteract the Patrick Swayze rays.
Update: hey, Kathy readers -- I updated the "Shaolin monk dude" line, as I decided that there really wasn't all that much of a Kung Fu vibe coming from the guy -- more of a "Fame! I'm gonna liver forevah! And do this really fruity 'evil maniac' laugh just to put the cherry on top of this homo sundae." Hey, I call 'em what I see 'em -- a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do.
And their stupid fans who can't stop bugging her about the "real lives" of her imaginary characters. I imagine her thinking: "There, that oughta shut 'em up."
Of course, she turns out to have been wrong, but only a saint could have resisted. Maybe.
I have an announcement...
I have decided to start drinking my coffee black.
Hey, it's a big change for me. Verdict so far: it helps to have really good coffee, as opposed to months-old pre-ground store brand.
Update: oh, and sugar -- gotta have sugar. Just two spoons per cup. I'll start cutting down on that next.
Today I caught a brief glimpse of something on the History Channel called "Hippies." I say brief glimpse, because I had to turn it off -- they managed to make the whole Sixties hippie thing horrifying from the get-go. Stay with me here -- grant you, the hippie lifestyle was horrifying*, but it didn't get so popular by being totally unattractive from the start. The funny thing is, I don't think the History Channel meant for the show to have this effect; I think they're just inept. It didn't help that they apparently couldn't get the rights to any of the original versions of the Sixties songs they used (at least the ones I heard), so my ears were treated to bad ersatz covers of "San Francisco" and so on.
Anyway, I hate hippies, but I love lots of their music, especially what we used to call "acid rock," which is stuff groups like Jefferson Airplane used to put out. Here's a treat from the Ed Sullivan Show:
(PS: I'm looking for a link to that article on old diseases like scabies and so on that experienced a resurgence during the dirty, dirty hippie days. I was going to use it to make a point but I can't seem to find it. *Update - got it, thanks to Kathy.)
I went to the Indian restaurant across the street for dinner. A couple next to me had their cell phone on so their relatives in Southern California could call them with updates on their situation.
The samosas were good, but the lamb biryani lacked something.
I'm fine, still at the friend's house helping her out. Not much to say. Well, this: Hamlet was on to something.
More later, maybe.
I had this realization a while back but haven't had time to sit down and hash out some Deep Thoughts on it. I still don't have time (lucky you), but here's a synopsis: I think that one of the problems we have in this country (and maybe the rest of the Western world) in pinning down just what are proper conservative beliefs is the fact that we tend to confuse conservative with conventional. For example: the Hollywood movie industry is supposedly a bastion of daring, liberal, progressive, even radical thought -- but its output is anemic, tired, and imitative. In other words, despite the chesty faux-defiant rhetoric coming from the entertainment media, its members are quite as conventional as the narrow-minded small-town Middle America they supposedly have to play to.
It's the same with a lot of other bastions of supposedly radical, progressive thought. For instance, the environmental movement is still harping on its sacred cows of overpopulation (even though birth rates are dropping just about everywhere), pollution from the West being the worst (even though nations like China and India are the worst polluted today), and "climate change" (a few decades ago it was the coming ice age because of our evil polluting ways; today it's global warming, but it's all the same ball of old wax). And of course there is the anti-war "movement," which is still stuck in 1969 Haight-Ashbury to an embarrassingly senile degree. None of the members of these movements show any evidence of even being capable of holding a new idea in their heads, or be capable of any independent thought whatsoever. They are as conventional as Ward and June Cleaver -- more so, because now June's habit of being completely dressed even as to pearls and earrings while staying inside her house all day is pretty darn radical in these slobby times.
That brings me to conservatives. A lot of people don't like to define themselves as such even though they are in their personal habits and beliefs -- but that's because they are actually afraid of being conventional. They shouldn't fear: conventional behavior these days means living together out of wedlock, babies without daddies, thinking chocolate Jesus statues are a cute kick in the eye to those fundy Christians but a cartoon making mild fun of Mohammed is a deep religious insult, and so on. If you don't actually believe any of the above are good things for society then you are being quite radical, you crazy conservative you.