Monday, August 31, 2009

Mean Janeane

I had the displeasure of reading "What puts the ROFL into Janeane Garofalo and Her Liberal Lefto-Pink Comedy" interview in the August edition of The Word (an otherwise superb
Brit music and entertainment rag.) A few things jumped out at me. The interview was example no. 478 of why I couldn't care less what celebrities have to say about the world. It was also one of thousands examples out there of how supposedly "compassionate, open-minded" lefties often show themselves to be nothing more than hateful, angry, spiteful, bitter people who would silence anyone opposing their world view.

I used to like Ms. Garofalo back in her The Ben Stiller Show days. Today, though, I really have no use for her. She's just another pissed off Hollywood type. She's supposedly smart, but she misses the irony of the bread and butter of her stand-up routine: trashing conservatives. Her reaction to the so-called "tea party protests" staged across the US a few months back was to call its participants a bunch of "teabagging rednecks." In the article she calls conservatives that oppose gay marriage "those closet queens" who are "so full of self-lating vitriol and hatefulness." Maybe the most blatant example of her bitterness is: "Look at it this way -- you have to be damaged goods to respond to the message of a right-wing movement an dyou have to be even more damaged to want to share that message with your tribe."

Where is the open-mindedness in that? Where is the "I'm OK, you're OK" spirit of this liberal age? Wouldn't a true liberal -- if he or she were sticking to the rhetoric of "inclusiveness" -- say, "Hey, we disagree with you on the right on the facts," and leave it at that? Name calling is what people do when either they've lost the argument or fear the other side.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Negotiating from a position of strength

I left a courthouse this morning after a completely unfruitful meeting. On the way into the parking garage I was greeted by one of the regular street guys. (I don't know whether he is homeless, but he hangs out in the area.) Normally this gentleman says, "Hey, what's happening?" and we go our separate ways. Today, though, was different.

As I approached he put his arms up in the air and greeted me like an old friend. Being the friendly guy I am, I stopped to chat.

"What's going on, fella?" I asked.

"Oh, man, just trying get me a little something to eat."

"Would you take two dollars?" I asked, as if I were obliged to give him anything at all.

"I'd take $20 but I know if I ask you won't give it to me, right?"

"Right. That's not going to happen," was my response with a smile.

"OK, two dollars will work."

"Here you go. Get some food."

"Thanks man, have a blessed day, brotha."

As I walked away I laughed at myself, not for giving him the money, but because I asked him if what I offered was sufficient. What kind of negotiating is that? In the business we call that "bargaining against yourself."

The exit from the parking garage took me right past my new friend's spot. I looked over to see him talking on a cell phone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Being tacky and desperate, apparently, is now a crime

Cops: Father Used Son To Pick Up Women

Child Asks Women To Meet Father, Police Say

POSTED: Tuesday, August 11, 2009
UPDATED: 1:15 pm EDT August 11, 2009
Authorities say a 48-year-old Utica man faces a disorderly conduct charge after he used his 7-year-old son to try and meet women in a park.Utica police Detective Sgt. David Faber says the man instructed his son on Sunday evening to ask women "if they would like to meet his dad so he could have a mother." When the women in suburban Detroit's Grant Park "would refuse, the boy would get upset and cry."Faber said the women rejected the suspect. But his ploy unsettled several men in the park and led to a confrontation.The man was arrested and posted a $100 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court within 10 days.The suspect told police he is divorced and has weekend visitation rights.Police will notify Macomb County Child Protective Services.

What this man allegedly did was pretty tasteless. I was certainly desperate and a bit creepy. There's something mildly offensive about it. But a crime? I thought we had the right in this country to be embarrass ourselves now and again.

Really, the Utica police and prosecutor need to find something better to do than waste tax payer resources on this.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Horrifying, disgusting, disturbing and funny all at once

I've been reading James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It's incredibly good, much better than I expected.

Today I read JJ's recount of a priest's lecture about Hell and judgment given to a group of young Catholic schoolboys on "retreat." This bit goes for pages, but it's loaded with brilliant bits. This one stood out for me. It made me cringe and laugh (out loud.)

The horror of this strait and dark prison is increased by its awful stench. All the filth of the world, all the offal and scum of the world, we are told, shall run there as to a vast reeking sewer when the terrible conflagration of the last day has purged the world. The brimstone too which burns there in such prodigious quantity fills all hell with its intolerable stench: and the bodies of the damned themselves exhale such a pestilential odour that as saint Bonaventure says, one of them alone would suffice to infect the whole world. The very air of this world, that pure element, becomes foul and un-breathable when it has been long enclosed. Consider then what must be the foulness of the air of hell. Imagine some foul and putrid corpse that has lain rotting and decomposing in the grave, a jellylike mass of liquid corruption. Imagine such a corpse prey to flames, devoured by the fire of burning brimstone and giving off dense choking fumes of nauseous loathsome decomposition. And then image this sickening stench , multiplied a million fold and a million fold again from the millions upon millions of fetid carcasses massed together in the reeking darkness, a huge and rotting human fungus. Imagine this and you will have some idea of the horror of the stench of hell.

I wish I knew why that made me laugh because I don't think it was intended to be funny, at least not in the context of the story.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Healthcare rant

Setting aside any concerns I have about "national health insurance," "single-payer insurance" (nice euphemism) or "socialized medicine," I want to address a gripe I have with my fellow Americans. Maybe
"nationalized" health care is the answer. I'll leave that to the experts. But irrespective of the answer to that question, I'm convinced that my fellow Americans turned into a bunch of crybaby sponges.

I understand that there are some significant gaps in health coverage in this country. I get it. I also think that people are too quick to ignore that we have the best health care services and technology in the world. Improving access to those services and/or technology shouldn't require a complete overhaul of the system. It would certainly be supremely foolish to take steps that would tear that down.

Nevertheless, what I tend to hear people say isn't that they can't get the health care they need, but that it's "expensive." Well, folks, the best things in life are expensive. That's just the way things are.

A dear friend of mine was complaining this past Friday how much he resents that hospitals and doctors "screw you in the ***" to provide treatment. He didn't seem to answer how the doctors and nurses are supposed to be paid, how the medical equipment is supposed to be purchased and maintained, or how the ulitilites are supposed to be paid by the hospital or clinic without there being a charge. There is a lot of overhead in healthcare, and the better the care the more it's going to cost. The better the automobile, the more it's going to cost. What's the difference?

I'd suspect that my disgruntled friend, if he stopped and thought about it, would rather get the best care at a higher cost than lousy care at bargain basement rates. Perhaps not. Perhaps he wants limited care that doesn't cost him a thing. I know I'd rather have top-notch care. I only have one body, one life.

My biggest gripe with Americans is that there is developing an attitude among them that they are entitled to health care at someone else's expense. I've heard people bitch and complain about having to pay for visits to their doctors' offices who have $1,200 TVs and who do Vegas a few times a year. You really think you have money in your pocket to entertain yourself but that money should not be used for your most basic need, i.e. your own health? Really? Sorry, but I don't want to pay for your health care if you don't care enough to pay for your own.

No one (or more accurately, very few) complains about having to buy food (especially when they eat out) or having to pay for housing. But your medical care is just as basic as those things. Why wouldn't you pay to take care of yourself? You pay to stuff your face at the local buffet, so why not kick in $50 for your doctor's visit?

You're not owed a thing. Reexamine how you prioritize your spending and then we can talk about whether I should chip in to help pay your medical bills. It's time to grow up.