NOVEMBER 2017

NOVEMBER  2017
The Rise of the Billionaires Leaves the Middle Class Stranded

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Friday, November 23, 2007

THE ROAD LESS TAKEN

I would describe the hot new trend in civil engineering sweeping across Europe as ““The Chaos Traffic Circle of Life”. These libertarians of the highways begin by dividing the world in two; “high speed” zones between cities and “slow speed” zones within communities. The Interstates, Autobahns and other divided highways will stay the same, with speed limits and limited access. But inside city limits the Neo-commuter approach is that dangerous is better. Rules, they say, make you feel safer but they don’t actually make you safer. So they are urging city planners to dump traffic lights and signs, speed limits and painted lane dividers and cross walks, “yield” and “caution” signs, parking zones and separated pedestrian walks and bike lanes, all of the safety regulations we think of as necessary, because, say these lunatics of the lanes, these are the tractor trailer jackknifed across our road home. Roads are not for cars, they are for people, some of whom are driving cars. Drivers and cyclists and pedestrians should depend upon the kindness of each other and always suspect each others’ intentions.
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This insanity began in the little Dutch village of Drachten and with a civil engineer named Hans Monderman. Drachten is a community of 1,000 directly astride a major commuter route that funnels 22,000 drivers a day right through the center of town. The residents were desperate enough to try anything. Step one was to “calm” the traffic, but not with speed limits which drivers could simply ignore. Monderman narrowed the streets, removed the painted lane dividers, added traffic circles, planted trees and flowers right up against the roadway, lowered curbs to bring pedestrians and drivers closer and added brick and cobblestone rumble strips. Drachten now has just one traffic sign, and it reads “Verkeesbrodvri” – “Free Of Traffic Signs”. A single rule rules on these roads; yield to the right, meaning merging traffic always has the right of way. But, of course, there are no signs to that effect.
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Hans does seem to have a phobic relationship with traffic lights. “…I haven’t found anywhere where they are useful yet,” he says. The town of Drachten once had 15 intersections controlled by traffic lights and he has removed 13 of them. Injuries at just one such intersection dropped from 9 a year (on average) with the lights to just one without. The clutter of traffic signs is gone. The signs detailing parking restrictions are gone. Traffic jams are also gone, and horn-honking frustrated drivers are gone too. Travel times have gone down while the speed on city streets has dropped by 50%. And a town with a traffic fatality every three years on average has now gone seven years without a death. In fact there has never been a fatality on a road system designed by Hans Monderman.
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Hans says of his system, “It works because it is dangerous…it shifts the emphasis…to the driver being responsible for his or her own risk,” and, “We want small accidents, in order to prevent serious ones in which people get hurt”. He says that about 15% of drivers will speed no matter how high or low you set the limit, change lanes no matter how many yellow lines you paint on the road. So, he asks, why try to control the 15% of drivers who will always refuse to obey the rules, whatever they are, by regulating the 85% of drivers who are perfectly capable of making their own “risk compensation” assessments? Good drivers should not be reading signs when they could be looking out for the bad drivers.
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In this brave new “shared traffic space” human behavior follows the design of the road, traffic lights are “…a retrospective cure for a government made problem”, and auto insurance is based on “risk liability”, where all persons involved in an accident are assumed to be responsible to some degree. Could it actually work? German traffic is governed by 648 valid traffic symbols with some 1,800 combinations on their 20 million traffic signs, and German drivers ignore 70 % of them. But on the outskirts of the little suburb of Bohmte (13,500 residents) there is now just one brand new, red and white road sign with a large black exclamation point on it, and beneath it are the words, “Priority Changed". As of February this year they have joined Mr. Monderman’s neighborhood. All asphalt and concrete have been replaced, and sidewalks and bike lanes will be separated from the road proper only by the color painted on their new cobblestones.
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According to the magazine “Der Speigel” the cars in Bohmte now seem to be, “…driven by swivel-headed paranoiacs with rubber vertebrae. They crawl along at little more than 15mph, their occupants constantly craning their necks to make doubly sure that they are not going to hit anything, be it a pedestrian, cyclist or even another car.” This is the new world order utopia, or what the British tabloids have dubbed the “Naked Streets”. And although no English village has yet worked up the courage to take it all off, Ipswich is considering it, and London has eliminated signs, barriers and the zebra pedestrian crossings along Kennington High Street, where, over a two year period, pedestrian injuries dropped 44%. In Wiltshire authorities removed the painted center divider line from a highway and reduced automobile speeds without an increase in accidents.
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In West Palm Beach, Florida a limited program of “shared space” along Clematos Street has more than doubled property values and brought the occupancy rate for commercial spaces to 80%, while also achieving slower traffic, fewer accidents and shorter drive times. It all sounds almost as perfect as the descriptions offered for the civic plans introduced in Europe and America after World War Two, the very system which Herr Modernman is urging should be replaced with his new version of perfection.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

IN GOD'S OTHER NAME

I begin by reminding you of the immortal words of the mythical Lionel Boyd Johnson, the fictional “Bokonon”, founder of the illusory religion Bokononism, who famously warned, "Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way." Ah, if only the founders and adherents of “real” religions could be that honest with their accolites. Of course the line between prophet and raving lunatic in most matters of faith is fabulously fuzzy, and therein lies the profit for prophets of both stripes. Or as Bokonon explained it, “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."

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If so, Pyotr Kuznetsov, the 43 year old founder of the “True Russian Orthodox Church” must be doing a jitterbug about now. He was an architect in Belarus before “God” commanded him to leave his family and inform the world that product barcodes are the sign of the anti-Christ. Eventually Pyotr and his mental deraignment settled in the tiny village of Nikolskoye where he shared his doomsday vision of pricing codes with a flock that now numbers 25 adults, (mostly women) and 4 hijacked children. I swear to God, if you offered a course in CPR with free beer and pretzels you would be lucky to have 5 people show up, but predict doomsday in six months and God inspired sex and you will have people fighting for space in your cave. Pyotr, of course, is not in the cave, because he, “…had to meet others who were yet to arrive.” He must have been disappointed to discover the “others” were his new psychiatrist and several nurses with great big syringes. Meanwhile, priests from the more orthodox Russian Orthodox Church have been trying to talk through the ventilation shafts with the faithful, who cannot answer because they have taken a vow of silence. And you can imagine what is going to happen if any of them start comparing notes about the possibility that Pyotr might be full Loony Toons; mass murder and suicide, which “the chosen people” have already threatened. As Bokonon himself would have said, “Busy, busy, busy."
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A significant source of the resilience found in Bokononism is that its “foma”, the collection of self admitted lies that make its believers happy, is always set to calypso music. According to a Bokononism toe taper, “Tigers got to eat, birds got to fly, man got to ask himself why, why, why? Tigers got to sleep, birds got to land, man tells himself he understands." Whereas, Christianity, particularly the “anti-theology” of “born- again” Pentecostals shun calypso music and assures its believers that Jesus’ love explains the whole world of misery, faithlessness, unfairness and betrayal.
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But mainline Christianity offers no clear explanation as to why, last June, an otherwise healthy and successful 51 year old Alabama preacher would feel the need to shove a condom shrouded dildo up his rectum and then dress himself in rubber underwear, a scuba divers’ skintight rubber suit, rubber booties, a rubber hood with a single air hole, a divers’ face mask and rubber ‘diving gloves’, and then don a second pair of rubber slacks with suspenders and a tight leather belt around his waist with numerous attached nylon ligatures, and then somehow hogtie himself. We know the Reverend Gary Aldridge of Montgomery did all of this because he then died of asphyxia, and the Alabama Medical Examiner’s office did an autopsy, complete with a detailed itemized wardrobe. (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/1008072scuba1.html). And in a touching note of bureaucratic humanity, the M.E. lists the Reverend’s personal effects as “One metal yellow ring intact on left finger, one dildo”. It almost brings tears to your eyes.
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The reverend’s congregation never mentioned the dildo publicly, and would only say that, “We will begin the healing process under the strong arm of our Savior, Jesus Christ”. Whereas a Bokononist would have known immediately that the dildo had been an ascendant wampeter for the good reverend and whoever tied him up, and the bible had been their descending wampeter. And the only comment a Bokononist would have made over the entire matter would have been, “Busy, busy, busy”.
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God knows they’ve been busy in the tiny village of Knutby, Sweden, population about 570; about 100 of whom are followers of Asa Waldau , who with just one month’s training at a Pentecostal bible school, became what is called in the biz a “charismatic” and founded her own cult in tiny Knutly. In 1997 Helge Fossomo and his wife Helene joined the group and moved next door to the great leader, and the following year he was present at Asa’s private ordination as “The Bride of Christ’, and her official renaming as “Tirsa”. And from this point on things in Knutly begin to get a little complicated.
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In December of 1998 Helge’s wife, Helene, died in her bathtub with no water in her lungs, a hole in her skull and an overdose of Darvon in her blood stream. Her death was ruled an accident. Six months later Helge married Alexandra, Asa’s younger sister. Then, in 2001 Helge fell ill with a mysterious aliment and was nursed back to health by young Sara Svensson, who quickly became his mistress. Shortly thereafter Sara divorced her husband. But BOC Asa (AKA Tirsa) didn’t approve of their relationship and as punishment Sara was ordered shunned by the community and placed under Helge’s strict control, where she became the nanny to his children; oh, and his sex slave when she was restricted to his bedroom; still with me?
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In 2003 Helge began a new affair with his neighbor on the other side, Anette Linde, but still found time and energy for Sara his sex slave as well as his wife Alexandra (remember her?). However by now Alexandra had been regulated to sleeping on a fold out couch in the guest bedroom. At about this time Sara the nanny and sex slave began receiving text messages on her palm pilot from God himself – or herself – urging her to murder Alexandra, and Helge assured the troubled Sara that the messages really were from the Almighty himself – or herself. With that assurance one morning Sara started pounding Alexandra’s head with a hammer. Alexandra managed to fight her off and the sect decided that Sara was overwrought and ought to take a little sabbatical to get some rest, while Alexandra and Helge recovered in Hong Kong. The police were never informed.
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Well, Sara was still getting text messages from heaven telling her to commit homicide and on January 10, 2004 she followed their instructions. She tramped through the snow drifts up the hill, snuck into Alexandra’s room with a silenced pistol and at close range pumped two shots into Alexandra’s brain and one in her stomach. Then, still following instructions from God via her palm pilot, the brave little soldier for the Lord went next door and shot Daniel Linde, husband of Helge’s mistress, Anette. God’s will and Hegle’s sex life seem to have matched up very nicely.
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But, bad luck all around, although shot in the jaw Daniel Linde managed to call for the paramedics. He identified his attacker as Sara (the sex slave) and her palm pilot identified Helge as the source of her messages from God. And although some folks believe that BOC Asa (AKA Tirsa) Waldua, was the actual author of these messages, nothing could be proved. Helge was sentenced to life in prison, and on July 20, 2007 got married for the third time to a woman who had become his prison pen pal. And BOC Asa has become a celebrity, described as “Sweden's most maligned person in modern times”.
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A Christian might be depressed by such horrors perpetrated in the God’s name, but a Bonkononist would only sing the calypso song, “God made Mud. God got lonesome. So God said to some of the mud, “Sit up! See all I’ve made,” said God, “the hills, the sea, they sky, the stars”. And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and have a look around. Lucky me, lucky mud.”
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

LARRY CRAIG AND THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION

I don’t care if you are 16 or 60; mixing sex and the law can be confusing, as Senator Larry Craig proved last August when, according to him, he paid a fine for picking up a piece of toilet paper in a Minneapolis airport restroom. At around the same time in neighboring South Dakota the cops in Sioux Falls were responding to a 911 call in the 1200 block of North Kiwanis Avenue. An unnamed resident had reported observing a nude trespasser on his front yard, with a video camera on a tripod, engaged in what appeared to be a sexual act with a street sign.
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The “Person Reporting” said he had chased the trespasser up Kiwanis Avenue, but admitted he had not intended to call the police, except the naked man with his tripod and his camera had returned and started doing it again, and had to be chased out of the yard a second time, this time all the way into a garage near the corner of Kiwanis and West Bailey. So this time the ‘PR’ did call the cops. And right around the corner, in the garage of 2613 West Bailey, the cops found 60 year old Verle Peter Dills, his video camera and his nakedness. And, according to a Sioux Falls P.D. spokesman, inside Dills’ residence they found a “large amount” of 8mm film and VHS video tapes of Dills engaged in masturbation and “sexual acts” with several innocent street signs. The ages and sexes of the signs could not be determined. Dills was arrested and held on $100,000 bail, charged with burglary (?!), unlawful occupancy (?) and six charges of indecent exposure, which I can understand. I guess it’s just another case of a man unable to “Stop, In The Name of Love”.
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The two events are far from similar; one took place in public and the other in a closed stall in a public restroom, but you can not overlook that fact that Larry Craig just looks creepy, and when he smiles he looks even creepier, creepy enough even to have been mistaken for Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons", or one of those 1930 movie villains who is just about to melt a planet or ravish an innocent maiden or commit some other kind of great evil, even on the scale of horror which inspired the recent arrest of the 22 year old lady in Skovde, Sweden. According to the “Person Reporting” this biting piece of social interaction, the young lady approached a man in a fast food restaurant and offered him a popular form of oral sex. As he was suspicious of an offer “too good to be true”, he says he turned her down. But the lady was insistent and without warning she forcefully yanked his pants down and sank her teeth into his penis. Then she scratched his face.
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Witnesses supported the victim’s story and the young lady told the Skaraborg District Court that she had been drinking and had no memory of even entering the restaurant, which ought to have been Larry’s excuse in my opinion. Anyway, the lady was convicted of assault and sexual harassment and was sentenced to 80 days (suspended) and had to pay the victim 11,500 Kroner in medical costs, equal to about $2,000 at the time. If the bill had been paid in an American hospital it would have been closer to a half a million. And why hasn’t the Bush Administration argued that the National Security Agency ought to place microphones in all airport bathrooms, to guard against the “Tea Timing” by illegal aliens of our nation’s public toilets? I’m sure George would have made it a campaign issue Larry had been a Democrat.
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America has so many laws regarding sex as to make it dangerous to engage in any form of colitis without first getting clearance from the N.S.A and or the C.I.A. In Ames, Iowa it is illegal for a man to take more than three drinks of beer AFTER making love to his wife, and it is illegal for a man in Connersville, Wisconsin to fire a gun while his wife is having an orgasm, even if they are not in the same room. Lawmakers in Bozeman, Montana have taken the trouble to outlaw sex between consenting members of the opposite sex in their own front yards after dark, but only if they are nude. It’s almost as if our lawmakers have developed a fetish for writing sex laws.
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Larry has long been a obsessed with “legal-sexual fetishism”, including such dangers as the public distribution of condoms. Their threat was proven by Gary Ashbrook, a 31 year old unemployed resident of Newhaven, East Sussex, England, who filled a condom with nitrous-oxide (laughing gas), climbed naked onto his bed and then, ala Howie Mandel, pulled the condom over his head. His roommate, Michael Young, found Gary the next morning as dead as Howie Mandell’s career before “Deal or No Deal”. Michael assured the coroner’s inquest that “I’m sure his death was an accident’, and the coroner agreed, ruling that Gary had died of “misadventure”. However I would have included “stupidity” as a contributing factor, since in this case wearing a condom had constituted the direct opposite of “safe sex”
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Safe sex and the biblical punishment of being stoned to death came together in the person of electrician Karl Watkins of Redditch, England, an aficionado of ‘silicis itineris amor’, a literal ‘love of pavement’. In February of 1993 Karl was busted when he was caught speed “bumping” a street in front of a group of children, (clearly running a rash risk of road rash) and later he was accused of attempting to “mount” an underpass. The exact mechanics are left unexplained but if it had been an overpass Karl would likely have been killed. Karl got 18 months for his “crime” and upon his release in April of 1995, was almost immediately re-arrested for bagging his new love, ‘Cupido purgamentum crumens’, or ‘humping trash bags’. He explained to the police that his dream was now to be thrown into a great pile of empty, flat vinyl garbage bags which he would then “make love to” while being watched by a gaggle of teenage girls. He had already been caught in several trash containers and hoped one day to get access to a trash truck when the trash bags were being crushed. This time he was given three years probation and ordered to seek psychiatric counseling.
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Two years later, in 1997, 28 year old Robert (Ross) Watt was fined 100 pounds when he used an Edinburgh street for his sexual assignation with a training shoe, and then in November of 2002 Ross was busted again when his 20 minute sexual encounter with a traffic cone in Regent Road, just outside the Scottish government offices, drew a large and boisterous crowd. Ross’s lawyer tried to explain that his client’s “freakish offenses” were merely part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but the prosecutor pointed out that Ross when arrested for this latest offense was still on probation for his arrest for standing naked in front of his apartment window while punching himself in the groin. As of November 2003 Ross remained under psychiatric counseling at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.
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Which brings us right back to that den of fetishism, the home to 150,000 sexual deviants on the edge of the prairie; Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where, on November 14, 2005, just about closing time, a security guard checking a closed door that was supposed to be open in the Washington Pavilion,, made an unpleasant discovery. The Pavilion, between 11th and 13th streets on Main, houses the 1,800 seat Husby Performing Arts Center, the Kirby Science Discovery Center, a 60 foot tall movie screen in the CineDome, six art galleries, a Discovery Store and a restaurant, and tucked away on the 3rd floor of the West Wing, the Alumni Room, which exhibits memorabilia from Washington High School which used to occupy this site. Upon pushing open the door of the Alumni Room the guard walked in on 19 year old Michael James Plenty Horse, with his pants around his ankles, sprawled atop a mannequin wearing a Washington High School band uniform, which had been partially removed.
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Startled by the guard’s entrance, Michael rolled off the mannequin, turned away and began immediately adjusting his pants. Questioned, Michael was “visibly ashamed” but refused to explain what he had been doing. He was arrested anyway and a magistrate’s court found him guilty of a misdemeanor of indecent exposure. He received a suspended sentence and three years probation. But he was also required to register as a sex offender, which meant that for the rest of his life his name would be published on web pages, and he would be limited as to where he could live and what kind of jobs he could work at. Michael’s lawyer thought that constituted excessive punishment not fitting a misdemeanor and appealed the decision all the way to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled on November 7 of this year that Michael’s actions might have been lewd but they did not meet the definition of indecent exposure, “…displaying or showing genitals in public”. The court pointed out that Michael had closed the door, blocking his actions from public view, and when caught he had turned his back, ensuring that at no time were his genitals visible to even the guard. Michael’s record was thus wiped clean, which is what Larry had been hoping for as well. But even though Larry genitals were not on display even to the urinal, a Minnesota court refused to overturn his polite pleading of guilty to “disorderly conduct”.
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It would be hard to describe what 51 year old Robert Stewart did as a public act, either. He was behind the locked door of his room in the Aberley House hostel, in Ayr, Scotland, when two house maids used their master key to burst in upon him. Robert was drunk, naked from the waist down and appeared to be in the act of humping his bicycle. The maids told the manager and the manager told the police, who arrested Stewart as a ‘sexual cyclist’, specifically conducting himself in a disorderly manner and simulating sex, which evidently in Scotland is illegal, even when preformed alone by a consenting adult behind a locked door. Like Larry, Robert pleaded guilty, hoping the publicity would just go away, and like Larry, Robert was placed on a sex offender’s list, paid a fine and was sentenced to probation.
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But just like Larry Craig, Robert Stewart had no such luck. The Internet in Britain won’t let the story alone and has become obsessed with Robert Stewart’s civil rights. One English writer asked, “Would they have done the same to a woman with a sex toy? …I don’t see that the two acts are that different.” But, added an English civil rights expert, “This case should not prevent people who want to engage in this sort of activity (from) doing so”. That is not true about the “tea timing” stings in American public restrooms. They will continue as long as there are homophobic men and homosexuals who find the smell of urine cakes arousing. But how come nobody seems very concerned about Larry Craig’s civil rights?
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Senator Larry Craig is a pompous jerk, that’s why. And his sexual proclivities however dated, bizarre, mundane, sick or common place have nothing to do with that.








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