Archive for September, 2009

Quick Shots

Posted in brilliance, economics, legal system, politics, randoma, reproductive health, the complete opposite of brilliance, war with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Some insight into my blog-writing process:  every day, I read the Huffington Post, New York Times, and various other internet news sources looking for interesting things to write about.  Once I find something, I bookmark it in a folder called “blog ideas,” to look into later or do more research about – or totally ignore.  Of the things that I find, maybe 20% of them actually do get written about here; for others, I lose interest, the moment’s urgency passes, I just don’t have enough to say on the topic to justify a full entry, or I just never get around to the actual writing part. (I do have a life, and it sometimes gets in the way.)  Sometimes I just don’t know what to say.

Now that my list has grown way too bloody long, I’ve decided to share some of the things I didn’t write about before.  However, since there are so many, I’ll have to limit my comments on each item to just one or two lines and let you read the links.

Basically, this is my bookmark clearing-house.  Ready, set. . .go!

1. Missouri coffee drinkers share the hot, steaming cup of love!

2. Smarter than the average bear?  Maybe.  Smarter than a top-of-the-line bear-proof canister? Definitely!

3. When this guy says he’s “gotta see a man about a horse,” call the police.

4. You know the real estate market is rough when people get violent over Monopoly properties. . .

5. It’s not just Alaska’s problem:  rape victims in many places often have to foot the bill for examinations and rape kits.

6. Something to keep in mind next time you call someone a slut. . .or are called one yourself.

7. When you’re tripping balls, every bush is on fire and can talk – so was Moses just high?

8. Conservative think-tank (they can think?) Heritage Foundation calls a bill pushing for harsher child-rape penalties “overcriminalization.” People, I beg you, do not trust Republicans around your children.

9.  Yes, Dear Canada, America is, in fact, on crack.

10. The Chinese have better political sensibilities than we do; they trust sex workers more than politicians.

11. Proof that God has a sense of humour: A British actor in a swine flu prevention commercial came down with – wait for it – swine flu.

12. What you’ve always suspected is true:  your brain really is working against you. As is the CIA.

13. If you only click one of these links, for the love of all that’s good and holy, make it this one about how and why conservative are always wrong. . .with historical evidence to back it up.  Brilliant!

14. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and the Photoshop of the photo editor.

15. I don’t know how to fix the obesity problem in this country, but I’m pretty sure that this is the wrong tactic.

16. Looks like freedom of speech only goes so far. . .

17. Why is John McCain the only Republican willing to stand up to conservative nutjobs? There’s gotta be more somewhere. . .

18. When a machete- and gun-wielding convicted killer gets better health care than his surviving victim, something is well and truly fucked up in this country.

19. Who’s really out to kill Grandma? It ain’t who you’d think.

20. “In recognition of your service to this country, we’re going to take away your child custody rights. Thank you!”

21. Welcome to Tennessee, where you can carry guns in bars, parks, and – wait a second, maybe not so much the parks.

22. “‘Round these here parts, you start wavin’ a picture of  Obama with a Hitler ‘stache, you can ‘spect a asswhuppin from an old Armenian man, and that’s how it should be.”

23. If you’re in a POW camp, Monopoly is a great, fun way to pass the time – or, you know, help you break out.

24. So, that high-tech phone you’ve got?  Chances are, if it gets stolen, its makers would rather force you to buy a new one than help you get it back.  The bastards.

25. Last but certainly not least, some sexual assault prevention tips that are guaranteed to work!

Whew!

VS – 09.22.09

On Racism

Posted in media failure, politics, racism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I have been thinking, for the past few days, about racism.

“Racism” is being launched into the airwaves fairly often nowadays.  While conventional left and middle wisdom do not blame racism solely for the. . .vociferousness of protests against health care  reform and President Obama, the pundits certainly do seem to believe that racism is a significant factor in the protests.

And they’re right.

You hear President Obama being called a fascist, a socialist, a Marxist, a Kenyan, a communist, and more by people who, when confronted, seem hard-pressed to define any of the labels that they’re throwing at him (except Kenyan, and honestly, I doubt that many of them could even find Kenya’s general location on a map or, as much as they claim to love and want to preserve the Constitution, seem to remember that as long Obama’s mother was an American citizen, he is an American citizen, no matter where he was born).  The man can’t even continue the tradition of giving a Presidential address to schoolchildren without right-wing parents getting up in arms about it, for fuck’s sake!  (For the record, I am proud to say that my daughter’s school didn’t send anything home or call any parents about the speech and showed it at the scheduled time without fanfare or fallout.)  If you take a good, hard look at the people protesting, and the ludicrous claims and scare tactics coming from a very vocal minority of this country, I promise that you too will be left with the strong impression is that what these people are really angry about is the black man in the White House.

Racism.  There’s that word again.

Racism, I believe, has a basis in primal human nature.  It is natural to fear what is different from one’s self, from one’s own experience.  It is also a natural human reaction to be fearful of change.  The loss of what is familiar, what is comfortable, what is known, can be a very frightening thing, and that is a natural reaction, to be afraid of the unknown.  However, fear of difference and fear of the unknown can and often do turn into dislike, disdain, prejudice, hatred. . .racism.  What we’re seeing in these protests is the result of fear not only left unchecked, but, in many cases, fed and nurtured and used by leaders, elected or otherwise, on the political right until it either mutated into racism or merged with already-held prejudices and became an even bigger monster (but not a monster dumb enough to forget to cloak its true nature by tossing out a “social-Marxist-fascist” smokescreen).

And the left shares the blame.

Yeah, I said it.  The political left is partly to blame for these protests.

How so?  By trying to enact reform beneficial to all Americans?  By winning new congressional majorities in the last two elections? By daring to put a black man in the White House?

No.

By demonizing people who were just afraid.

Remember what I said about it being an intrinsic part of primal human nature to fear change, to fear the unknown, to fear what is different from oneself?  It is.  And instead of talking to these people and trying to understand why they were afraid and calm their fears, the left instead labeled them “racists” and “rednecks”  and “ignorant” and ostracized them, shunned them, tried to make them ashamed of merely being human, being afraid. . .and drove them right into the open arms of the people on the right that were willing to use them for ratings, for money, for political power.  A lot of these people were just scared of a strange face, a face unlike their own, and when they turned on their TV to look for answers, they saw, instead of reports emphasizing the commonalities of all people and how the President is just a man like any other, they saw emphasis of difference and division: the first black President, the relevance of the black vote, the Latino vote, the Asian vote, the white vote, and the people who looked like them, who were largely white and older, being labeled as “racists” and “opponents” of change.  I’m not saying that some of those labels weren’t correctly applied; far from it.  I’m saying that the labels got overused and, in their overuse, succeeded more in alienating a section of the population than in actually hurting their intended targets. . .leading to those feeling alienated and disenfranchised right now, holding up signs of Obama with a Hitler mustache and parroting the words of the people who gave them ways to channel their fear into a cause instead of making them feel ashamed for being afraid.

For being human.

Don’t get me wrong;  I’m not defending racism at all.  I’m saying that the left blew a chance to win over many of the hearts and minds that they drove to the side of the extreme right-wing demagogues.

It’s not too late to correct the mistake.  It takes understanding, compassion, and most of all, calm, reasonable, logical debate.  Understand that these are not necessarily bad people on the other side of the debate.  Have the compassion to listen, and in debate, give them the knowledge, of human commonalities, that can defeat a fear of the unknown, of another people.  Remind them, hell, show them that most African-Americans are not gangsta rappers, most Asians are not martial arts experts, most Muslims are not terrorists, and most Latinos don’t even know who Carlos Mencia is.  Knowledge is really the only way to defeat the media-promulgated stereotypes and show everybody (because there are minority racists, too) that we are, as our President said, far more alike than we are different.

Not doing this, not fighting back with knowledge, will only lead to more of the same thing thing you’ve seen this summer: more loud voices covering fear with nationalism or patriotism, more walls of anger with fear hiding behind them, until finally people stop yelling and start acting. When that happens, then, if nothing else, we’ll know for sure one commonality:  everybody’s blood is red.

VS – 09.17.09

Victimization Is A Pre-Existing Condition?

Posted in economics, politics, reproductive health with tags , , , , , , , on September 14, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I had originally planned to post today about the large numbers of articles, essays, and such that I have bookmarked and had intended to write about, but just never got around to it.  That idea went out the window when I saw this headline at the Huffington Post:

When Getting Beaten By Your Husband Is A Pre-Existing Condition

And I thought, are they f***ing serious? Go ahead, read the article.  I’ll wait.

Done?  Good.

So, yeah, they’re f***ing serious.

You can be denied medical insurance coverage (if you live in one of the eight states that go unnamed in the article or DC) if you’ve ever been the victim of a domestic assault.  Seriously.

You know, we have more than enough of a problem in this country with domestic violence going unreported.  As if the social stigmas and legal quagmires of actually seeing your attackers punished weren’t bad enough, now the women who have the courage to stand up and fight also run the risk of losing or not being able to attain medical coverage if they do stand up and say “no more.”  It’s like being punished for being a victim, yet again.

This is so incredibly outrageous that I can’t even wrap my head around it.

There are people out there who read this article and think, “Well, it’s their own fault for being in and/or staying in an abusive relationship.” (Really, there are; read the comments.)  As someone who has spoken with several women who had been or were in abusive relationships, I can honestly say this: you don’t know someone’s abusive until they start up the abuse.  Yes, there can be red flags that, from an outside perspective, would indicate such, but an outside perspective lacks emotional investment and can have a bias that makes interpretation of the signals invariably subjective, and easily dismissed from either side.  Besides, flags are only indicators of possibility; they are not ironclad guarantees of an abusive personality.  The really smart abusers would make sure they didn’t give off such flags, anyway.  Also, no abuser beats a woman on the first date. . .or the second, or third, or, in most of the cases I have known, not until marriage.  When meeting someone new or entering a new relationship with possibilities, everybody (and I do mean everybody) puts their best foot forward, puts up their best sides and doesn’t show the true whole of themselves.  Men and women both do it, abusers and non-abusers, and not everyone does it with any sort of malign intent.  Some fear rejection needlessly, some rightfully fear rejection, others are just nervous or shy; there’s a million why people do it, and I’m not arguing for or against any of them, only acknowledging that they exist.  My point is that it can take a long time to really know someone, to really know all sides of their personality, no matter how much one already loves what one has seen of another person. . .and even then, it’s possible to hide certain sides until it’s too late.  (I’m speaking from personal experiences on that one.)

All that just to say that it’s complete B.S. to blame the victim of domestic violence for being a victim of someone else’s sickness, and morally and ethically wrong to punish them again by denying or canceling medical insurance for them.

And if that’s not enough to give you some outrage about how the insurance industry treats women, go ahead and click here to read about how difficult and costly it is for women to get pregnancy care, how women in some markets pay up to 140% more in premiums than men of the same age for the same amount of coverage, and how women can be denied coverage simply for having had a caesarian section.

What utter crap.

VS – 09.14.09

Guest Columnist: Hamburglar

Posted in humour with tags , , , , on September 11, 2009 by vagabondsaint

(Vagabond Saint is out sick this week.  Filling in today is nationally syndicated columnist and former McDonald’s Spokesperson Hamburglar, with a special edition of his Ask The Hamburglar advice column.)

Ask The Hamburglar!

Todays Guest Columnist

Today's Guest Columnist

Q: Dear Hamburglar,

I have been married to a wonderful man for 8 years now.  Our marriage is fine, but I can not stand his mother!  Every time she comes over, she nitpicks about the tiniest things, like a little dust on the counters and a little laundry here and there! We both work full time and are raising 5 children and don’t always have time to take care of the little details.  How can I get her to get off my back?

Woman On The Edge
A: Yeah, I know I’ve not been around for a while.  You might have noticed me missing from McDonald’s commercials for the past decade or so.  That’s because they shit-canned me.  With an extra helping of shit, to be honest.  That’s right, McDonald’s, leading employer of 30-year-olds without high school diplomas and #1 provider of childhood obesity, canned me.  Why?  They said I was a bad role model!  ME!  Yeah, I steal hamburgers.  So what?  I’m hungry, and that’s just how we roll back in Robbulstan.  Besides, every time I stole some burgers, I always got my ass humiliated and sent to prison in the 1930s, from the look of my goddamn uniform.  You’d think that would be great for kids, ’cause it teaches them not to steal shit. But nooooooooooo, I’m the one that’s a bad role model, out of all those freaks and bizarro people I worked with there.

Let me tell you something about Birdie:  we didn’t call her “Birdie” because she could fly and had a pilot’s license.  We called her “Birdie” because she was higher than the fucking stratosphere all the goddamn time.  (While we’re on the bird theme, we could have called her “Cockatiel,” if you know what I mean.)  If she had hollow bones like a real bird does, they were most likely stuffed with coke at any given moment.  If you could snort it, inject it, smoke it, or drink it, Birdie had it in large fucking supply.  Why do you think she was always walking in circles, making airplane noises?  She wasn’t just being cute, she was higher than Amy Winehouse in a three-way with Keith Richards and another equally-high Keith Richards.  And I’m the bad role model.

Q: Dear Hamburglar,

I’m in my junior year of college and, for the first time in my life, I’ve found a woman that I’ve fallen in love with.  The problem is, I’m a virgin.  I don’t even know all that much about sex, and I don’t know how to break it to her that I’m really inexperienced.  I’ve heard that’s a big turnoff for women.  Is that true?  Should I tell her or should I just buy some porn and learn about it on my own first?

Inexperienced In Illinois

A: For all that I could say about Birdie (and there’s a lot), at least she’s from this planet.  Grimace is a fucking illegal alien, and when I say “alien,” understand I am not fucking around, alright?  That guy’s from outer space somewhere, I swear.  We never could get a clear answer out of that clown.  He’d just play stupid whenever we tried asking for his green card and cry whenever he saw a picture of Pluto.  On top of being in this country, never mind on this planet, illegally, he’s gay too.  That’s right, Grimace is a big ol’ Purple Penis Eater.  You might be wondering how a vaguely-conical alien blob that never wears clothes could even have sexual organs.  Trust me.  They’re there.  And if he gets drunk, there’s a 98% chance he’ll show them to you, and then you can have haunted goddamn nightmares, too.  Don’t ever go drinking with that fucker and pass out near him, is what I’m saying.

Q: Dear Hamburglar,

I need help!  One of my old buddies from school wants me to be the best man at his wedding and his fiance is great, but it turns out that the woman I’ve been a “friends with benefit” with for years is her mother, and the woman who joined in for three-ways sometimes is her aunt!  What do I do?

Scared Of Exposure

A: Ronald McDonald?  Oh, don’t get me started on that asshat.  Of all the freaks there were in that group, he was the motherfucking King, bar none.  First of all, that’s not makeup.  That’s what that jackass really looks like.  It’s like someone gave the fucking Joker a perm and a goddamn horrible dye job.  On top of that, the guy just couldn’t keep it in his pants.  Many times we had to sneak out of town because he got caught groping a kid, an employee, a manager, or a manager’s spouse.  It was just a goddamn shame.  You know what they say about guys who wear big shoes?  Well there’s a lot of disappointment comin’ for women who like guys with big floppy shoes, and let me put the emphasis on “floppy.”  It’s like he couldn’t get it up, so he tried to attack everything in sight to make up for it and popped pills of all colours like a madman.  It was fucking tragic.

I remember one time we went into a McDonald’s in Laredo, just putting in an appearance for all these kids and their parents that had shown up, and Ronald just fucking walks in, whips his shit out, yells out “You want fries with this, bitches?” and starts laughing maniacally.  6 billion served with hush money, that fuckin’ day.  And I’m the bad role model that got fired.

Fucking bastards.

********************************************************

Hamburglar’s nationally-syndicated column, “Ask The Hamburglar,” appears in over 250 newspapers nationwide.

This Just In. . .

Posted in politics with tags , , , on September 3, 2009 by vagabondsaint

This just in. . .

Next week, President Barack Obama will give a special address to America’s children.

On a side note, he will also give a speech to America’s students.

VS – 09.03.09