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Greed and Monopolies Take Over the Ship

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Boo, Whom!

I do not understand why, once a year, I am expected to feed every kid in the neighborhood. And just try offering these vagabonds real food, some sliced ham or some ‘buffalo wings’ or, God forbid, a little rice pilaf, and see just how quickly your house gets egged. What this ‘Kinder Mafia” demand is pure extravagance; candy – mere empty calories. Their obsession with processed sugar is neither healthy nor logical. Oh, sure, they dress it up in fairy costumes and monster masks but as they go door to door they don’t chant, “Treat or trick”, oh no, because it isn’t about the treat. It’s about the trick, and it’s about the shakedown. This isn’t a holiday. It is income redistribution, socialism out of the barrel of a gummy bear.
*
The roots of Halloween were planted long before Christians had enough saints to celebrate the night before All Hallowed Saint’s Day. The Aztecs were celebrating Dia de los Muertos even before they were speaking Spanish., maybe 3,000 years ago, and the Druids in Ireland were celebrating “Samhain” by carving turnip Jack-o-lanterns 2,500 years before they saw their first pumpkin. ‘And how’, you may ask, ‘did offerings to Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec Goddess who was still born, become individually packaged bags of M&Ms’ left out for a skeleton named Catrina? And I will answer you, ‘Only in a world where the child of Salvador Dali and Ma Barker designs the holidays, that’s where.’
*
This is the night when the line between the dead and the not-yet-dead (also known as The Living) is supposed to become fuzzy, and everyone is concerned about ghosts, spooks and ghouls. But its common knowledge that ghosts can’t manipulate physical objects, so they can only harm you psychologically, meaning Scientologists are safe since they don’t believe in psychology. And nobody should be afraid of “spooks” because once you speak a spook’s name they are “spooken for” and rendered harmless; which is what happened to the spook Valerie Plame. Now Robert Novak, he’s a ghoul and every time you think they’re dead they come back to life again on Fox News. That whole network is staffed by zombies, and is a perfect example of how we are terrified of all the wrong things in this life and the afterlife.
*
But on October 31st, I too will be answering my door bearing a bowl filled with tribute, because I don’t want to spend half of November pulling toilet paper out of my rain gutters. Besides, this is also Reformation Day, when, in 1546, Martin Luther supposedly allegedly nailed his “95 Things I Hate About The Pope” to the front door of the Wittenberg Castle Church and was later arrested for deformation of church property. So, logically, children could be going door to door, calling, “Treat or I’ll nail your ass, you papist bastard, and have you got any Jews hiding in here?” So I guess we’re lucky we got the screwed up holiday we did get. It could have been far worse.
*
The truth (as if that ever mattered about holidays) is that Martin Luther defiantly nailing his arguments to the church door was probably as real as the legend of George Washington chopping down a cheery tree; not. And that may be yet another reason why you never see Martin Luther costumes. I did see a George Washington once, but that was so long ago the costume was probably made in the United States.
*
This year Americans will spend over $6 billion on this mish-mash of a holiday. Almost all of our black and orange fix, like cocaine, is provided by overseas suppliers who have no other connection to us, and although that kind of chump change would barely support the occupation of Iraq for a month it does work out to about $65 per family this year. About 4 million Americans will even be buying costumes for their dog, like PetSmart’s spider web dog collar for $12, or PetCo’s doggie Pumpkin dress up for $16. This canine costume capitalism is surprising considering that dogs and skeletons would seem to be a natural costume combo, popular with dogs as well as the humans, and with the advantage that once the holiday was over you wouldn’t have to store the costume, you just let Rover bury it!
*
But we seem determined to spend as much as possible, to prove the depth of our emotional commitment to this “dead holiday thing”, putting 2 million pirates (mostly boys) on the streets Wednesday night, along with 4 million princesses (mostly girls) to look cute and threaten and harass adults, cowering in our homes with only a bowl of bite sized Three Musketeers for protection. It’s the sound that fills the night with horror and chills the bones; “Trick or treat, trick or treat, give us something good to eat, or else.”

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY

I was doing seventy-two mph one morning, southbound on the 101 in Ventura County, when a small economy car came floating past me. The driver had both bare feet on the dash and was steering with her knees while she used the rear view mirror to apply eye make-up. I guess you could call that a story of the about to be blind being allowed to drive by the evidently blind California DMV. But a similar ‘feat’ landed Martin Veens, from Holland, in dutch while driving down the A55 in Wales, England this past summer. Police had received reports of a 40 ton truck driving “erratically” (meaning weaving) and a helicopter even caught it on video straddling lanes on the “dual carriageway” (meaning freeway). When they pulled him over police found Martin holding a saucepan in his left hand, a fork in his right, and he admitted he had been steering with his knees. Since he also admitted in court that it had been an “outstandingly stupid thing to do” the judge went easy on Martin. He was sentenced to a year in “goal” (jail), had his “permit banned” (license revoked), and before he is allowed to drive trucks again he must take an “extended examination” (bullshit).
*
In Abbotsford, Wisconsin, 43 year old Harvey Miller decided that after a night of drinking at a local bar he was too loaded to drive his pick-up truck home. So he enlisted the help of his friend, 48 year old Ed Marzinske. And when they were pulled over by the cops Harvey argued that because he was just steering while Ed operated the gas and brake pedals, he wasn’t technically “driving” the truck. But the cops arrested both men for DUI noting that, one, they were both technically “driving” the truck, two, they were both drunk, three, neither man had a current valid license, four, this was Harvey’s third DUI arrest and Ed’s second, and five, Harvey has no legs. Well, at least they weren’t “blind drunk”.
*
That fete was accomplished by an unnamed 20 year old in Tartu, Estonia, early on a Sunday morning. Cops pulled him over for weaving and then noticed that he kept missing the tube on the breathalyzer, at which point his 16 year old unlicensed passenger (who was also drunk) admitted she had been providing him with directions. The 16 year old was released to her parents. The 20 year old was arrested. Still you have to figure he got off lightly when compared with all that Floyd P. Sincerbeaux, of Lyons, New York, was charged with; felony driving while intoxicated, misdemeanor first degree unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, operating an unlicensed and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. The vehicle in question was a cub cadet riding lawnmower. Floyd was released on $2,500 cash bail. I guess he gave the cops an attitude, because 41 year old Chris Guerrero, who was also riding his lawnmower home while drunk, was only charged with driving with a blood alcohol level above 0.08. Chris was even allowed to drive his mower home, followed by the ticketing officer. The difference must be that Chris didn’t give the arresting officer attitude…and he is a Sacramento Sheriff’s Sergeant assigned to the Sacramento County Jail
*
Attitude is often an important factor in determining whether a driver gets a traffic ticket or not, something clearly on the mind of a Moscow driver who this September ran into some roadwork, which damaged his Mercedes. So far it was simply a story of the collision between capitalism and the workers’ paradise, but when these particular workers refused to compensate this particular capitalist on the spot for the damage to his car, the driver, described only as a short man in his late twenties, pulled a pistol and shot dead one construction crewman and wounded a second. Since he didn’t stick around to finish off his second victim I guess that would make the still-at-large shooter a compassionate conservative.
*
Time, and overusage, appears to have stripped the definition of both conservative and compassionate of their traditional meanings, as articulated by Indiana State Trooper Al Martinez, who pulled over a Chicago man just trying to get home to his Mommy. A mere ten miles short of the Ohio line Al pulled over an SUV, after receiving calls from several truckers about the eastbound vehicle on the Indiana Toll Road (I-90). Al found the driver naked, with a Tee shirt thrown over his crotch and his hands coated with what appeared to be petroleum jelly. The driver insisted he was on his way to visit his mother in the Buckeye state, but the heartless cop charged the Momma’s boy with lewd conduct. Evidently the driver had handled his sport utility safely as he was not charged with any moiving offenses.
*
Would that the same were true for the Jeff Kendell, who was stopped while driving the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, a 27 foot long, 11 foot tall, hot dog and bun shaped vehicle bearing the vanity license plate “Y-U-M-M-Y”. It seems that when Tucson, Arizona highway patrol officer Korey Lankow ran that plate on his computer, YUMMY came back as stolen. Ever vigilant and concerned that some terrorist might be trying to sneak a WMD into the country disguised as a giant wiener, Officer Lankow called for backup and pulled the wiener over. Wiener driver Jeff explained to the three officers who responded to the call for assistance with a giant weiner, that the plates had been stolen in Missouri last February and immediately replaced by the company. The alert on the stolen plates was supposed to carry the notation that if the plates were found on the actual giant wienermobile it was to be ignored, but somehow that notation never made it into the APB, which just proves why we need a Department of Homeland Security, to monopolize those kinds of screw ups in one place, rather than letting them be made by police departments all across the country.
*
You might think that the solution to the problem of HBW – humans behind the wheel – would be modern technology, but you would be wrong, considering the determination and perseverance of humans. The classic proof of this "never-say-die" and "never-say-wait-a-minute-let’s-think-about-this" tendency of humans must be the story of Paula Ceely, a 20 year old student at Birmingham Collage who in February of this year decided to visit her boyfriend in the tiny Welsh village of Hebron, Carmarthenshire. And, since she had never been there before, Paula borrowed his SatNav unit, which is EuroSpeak for the Global Positioning System.
*
Speaking of the SatNav unit Paula said later, “I just followed the directions it was giving me”, which might well be the epitaph for future generations of humans. But as darkness and a blinding rain closed in on this night Paula dutifully followed the SatNav down a lonely and dark country lane, which ended at a white farm gate. At first she thought she had been directed to a dead end, but according to the SatNav this was the correct address. So Paula climbed out into the downpour, swung the gate open wide, drove through, and then stopped again and thoughtfully closed the gate behind her. Then to her surprise she noticed a second gate, so she pushed it open as well. And it was at this moment that Paula heard the approaching train.
*
It was the 8 pm express headed for Swansea, going 60 mph and Paula had just parked her car across its tracks. She had time to think about leaping into her car and driving it to safety, but luckily before she could try the several hundred ton express smashed into her Renault Clio, slicing off the engine block and sending the broken hulk spinning half a mile down the track as if it had been kicked by a pissed off King Kong. Paula said later, 'The crossing wasn't shown…there were no signs at all and it wasn't lit up to warn of an oncoming train.”

*

Well, true, but there six signs at the crossing, including the instructions “STOP”, and “Phone Before Crossing”, which appeared on two separate signs. But, I guess Paula was expecting her borrowed SatNav unit to scream in an alarmed voice, “Paula, what the hell are you doing? There’s a train coming! Get the hell out of the way!”

*
And until some human invents something that does that, we humans are going to be on our own, God help us.
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