JUNE 2020

JUNE   2020
He Has Dragged Us Back Forty Years.


Saturday, March 01, 2008


I have come to the conclusion that if somebody invented a pill that would cure cancer, schizophrenia and over eating all at the same time and in one dose some greedy idiot would oversell it. What convinces me of this terminal illness of capitalism, bro, is the mis-development of Jack Cover’s little 1974 invention which he playfully called “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”, AKA, the TASER. Mr. Cover, who started life as a researcher for NASA, saw his non-lethal weapon as a replacement for the gun in self defense, or at least a supplement to it. Instead it has fallen into the hands of marketing morons who have sold it to idiots, like 40 year old Kenny Chumsky, who was celebrating his birthday on a recent Wednesday night in his parent’s garage on Southwest Liberty Avenue in Port St. Luce, Florida. After the consumption of enormous quantities of alcohol Kenny broke out the evening’s entertainment, a Taser, with which Kenny incapacitated his party guests, one after the other. What fun.
A Taser works on the simple idea that a short burst of low amplitude high voltage electricity will overload your bodies’ nervous system, harmlessly rendering you incoherent, incapacitated and possibly incontinent, and for perhaps 3 or 4 minutes, as harmless as a bull with his testicles in a vise. Now, the vise does not have to be very large to completely control a really big bull and most Tasers work on just a couple of “AA” batteries. There are of course several transformers involved which step up the kick to something approaching 50,000 volts, but I get half that voltage every time I kiss my wife or touch a doorknob in low humidity. It hurts like hell but it ain’t fatal, and kissing my wife is much more fun that Kenny and his “friends” were having, shocking the brains out of each others’ heads.
Then, along about 2 AM (now Thursday morning) Kenny and friends had been incapacitating and humiliating each other long enough that the repetition was beginning to bore them. So as his mother was walking passed Kenny hit the old broad with the Taser and - Zap! – his old lady dropped like a rag doll, bouncing her head off the garage floor, drawing blood and raising a lump. I’m sure everyone had a good laugh over that one, at least until the cops showed up. See, Kenny’s mom had called them. She actually pressed charges of domestic battery and assault against her own son. My God, you’d have thought he had tried to electrocute her or something.
In 1993 the inventor, Mr. Cover, then 73 years old, fell in with Rich Smith, a brand new 25 year old MBA graduate and his older brother Tom, and together the three started Taser International, Inc. Thanks to Rich’s marketing savy, and Patent #6636412, TASERS are now being unleashed from San Pedro, California to Martin County, Florida, where Sheriff’s Deputy Lori Kandill recently used her TASER inside the county court house, against another deputy. It seems Lori was being teased by her “friend” of 20 years, Deputy Dillon Murphy, and in playful response she “Tasered” him several times on the abdomen: And as soon as he recovered control of his muscles, Deputy Murphy playfully body slammed Deputy Kandill to the floor. It was all harmless horseplay in the hands of professionals, the kind of bonding ritual you would expect in a testosterone rich environment, which would likely have been quickly settled with a heartfelt apology and a hearty “fuck you”, except the entire episode was caught on surveillance cameras and was brought to the attention of Sheriff Robert Crowder. He suspended Deputy Kandill for 12 days without pay, and her supervisor for two days. Geez, the next thing you know, they’ll be disciplining officers who take out their night sticks and start playfully whacking each other on the head.
The basic problem seems to be that nobody can decide if the Taser is a deadly weapon or, according to Rich Smith and his marketing staff, a sort of an electrified water pistol. As CEO of Taser International Rich has been Tasered a number of times, as has his wife and his mother. (You can bet Rich’s mom never called the cops!) In fact Taser International has a whole range of user friendly units, including a ladies Electric Pink Taser, and has just introduced a cute little clip-on kitty looking sort of thing that quickly converts into a Taser, should the kids you’re pre-teen is babysitting for want to argue about their bed time, or whether her boyfriend gets to eat out of their parent’s refrigerator. Yes, it’s a Taser friendly world, harmless and fun filled, with the joyous pranks engaged in by Paul J. Dupay from North Prairie and Paul M. Dupay from Waukesha, a Wisconsin father and son. Their adventures began on New Years Day when a police officer responded to a call of a car in a ditch. The officer found 22 year old Paul M. uninjured, standing outside his disabled vehicle, shivering in the cold. He let Paul M. warm up sitting in his squad car. And Paul M. returned the favor by stealing the officers’ Taser. And the next anyone saw of the missing item was on “YouTube”. (http://www.nothingtoxic.com/media/1163394146/Psycho_Gets_Tasered_in_the_Nuts *
There, at one time, you could watch as Paul M. and his 41 year old father, Paul J. took turns Tasering each other, at least until somebody called the East Troy police and reported two local morons displaying their stupidity and stolen goods online. It seems at times that YouTube is sort of the Home Shopping Network for the cops, doesn’t it? On January 3 the cops executed a search warrant at the home of Paul J. and seized the stolen Taser, the video camera and the computer, and the Moron Network was off the air, at least until the next morons show up.
So is the Taser a Wonder Weapon that instantly harmlessly disables at a touch, or via electric prongs fired from 15 feet away, good for a joke on an annoying old lady, or is it a deadly weapon A Wake Forest University study of 1,000 humans hit with Tasers, showed that 99.7% of subjects had no substantial ill effects, but three needed hospitalization and two died. Ninety-nine point seven percent certainly meets any sane definition of safe, but it does raise questions about the civilian version, now being sold at TASER parties in people’s homes, which actually use much longer bursts of shock than the police versions. Clearly more study is needed, and soon, and not by Tasering Rich’s mother again. But the one thing about Tasers that is absolutely clear right now and can be stated without fear of contradiction, and that is that they should never be used on snakes.
This story occurred on January 15th when visitors to Everglades National Park spotted a 6 foot python slithering through the grass beside the main road, and pulled over to have a look. The snake, being a shy creature, began looking for an escape route and eventually crawled up into the engine compartment of a Ford Explorer. The owner, Rod DeLong gingerly tried to pull the snake out before giving up and driving 15 miles to the park entrance and appealing for help. Now at this point the snake was doomed. Pythons are not native to Florida, but so many have been dumped in the everglades by moronic mostly male humans who think having a “pet” that eats other pets is “cool”, until it gets taller than they are, that the ecology of the place is falling apart. All the area zoos are stuffed with abandoned pythons and yet the local pet stores are still selling them, under the counter of course. And so the outcome for this particular snake was inevitable from the moment he gulped down his first white rate or ate his first Pekinese.
The only question for the park rangers was how to get the snake out from around the engine block so they could kill it, and I suppose it was natural, given the marketing done by the Smith brothers, that one genius in the group would suggest using a TASER on the python. And this was where the marketing for Taser International Inc. met the reality of life, sort of like in the movie Jurassic Park. When the TASER was applied the snake did not release its death grip on the engine block, it tightened it and, in the same reflex, released it’s bladder and vomited, both with unusual force and volume. The rangers and Mr. DeLong still faced the problem of untangling the snake from the engine block but now the block was wet and sticky and stinky as hell. The problem had escalated from difficult to disgusting.
Eventually the rangers were able to disengage the snake by partly disassembling the engine, and they immediately killed the misguided beast. But poor Mr. DeLong and his family had to then drive home with the most God awful odor cooking off the engine block every mile of the way – call it the Python’s unsweet revenge. But the Python’s fate seems to me to be emblematic in small of the future of Taser International; done to death by over marketing.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I have a horrible feeling that somehow we’ve gotten this whole endangered species thing backward. Yes, we continue to carelessly destroy habitats, introduce alien species, and randomly dump industrial waste, and that’s all bad and we should stop it. But I’ve been eating dolphin safe tuna for almost forty years now and the darn dolphins are still not safe. I thought these guys were supposed to be so smart! Meanwhile, nobody is trying to protect the Northern Pike of Lake Davis, California: Quite the opposite.
Some idiot released a couple of Esox Lucius Linaeus – Northern Pike - into the small and now very un-placid Lake Davis back in 1991 because they thought Pike would be fun to catch. Unfortunately the lake already had a stocked population of game fish, Onocorhynchus clarki – Rainbow Trout - which are not only a popular game fish amongst tourists but are also an easy meal for the voracious Northern Pike.
To the California Fish and Game Department the worry was that once these piscatorial carnivores had finished off the Trout they would swim downstream on the Feather River, into the Sacramento and then upstream to devour the Delta Salmon fry populations, which Fish and Game had just spent tens of millions of dollars re-introducing. So, since 1997 the California Fish and Game Department has spent something in excess of $24 million trying to kill off these finned invaders, and that effort hasn’t proven to be fun for anybody, except possibly the Pike.
The Northern Pike of Lake Davis have been poisoned. They have been electrocuted. They have been shot, netted, hooked, cornered, dynamited, starved and suffocated. The state even drained the lake. For over a year the nearby human population couldn’t drink the water, it was so full of piperonyl butoxide. The pike barely noticed the stuff.

Sometimes it seemed that the "experts" were hunting down the pike individually, one at a time, to beat them to death with sticks and clubs. It was like trying to control flys with a fly swatter. It seems to have just ticked them off.These Franken-Pike refused to die. They weren't on any endangered species list, they’re on the ten most wanted list. They’ve had more people gunning for them than Osama bin Laden, and with about as much luck. When nothing else worked Fish and Game tried stocking Lake Davis with oversized Trout fry, thinking they would be too big for the young Pike fry to eat and the Pike would then starve to death or be eaten by the giganto-trout. But in response the Pike began growing nine to fourteen times faster than normal. They became super-pike fry-enators: big nasty Pike that had no trouble swallowing the Trout of unusual size.

Six hundred Pike were caught in Fish and Game sample nets the year after the lake was poisoned. In 2004 the catch was 17,635. In all, something over 65,000 Pike have been pulled from Lake Davis since humans began trying to eradicating them, and God knows how many sacrificial Trout. But however many it was, it wasn't enough.

In May of 2005 the Pike Fry were caught trying to find a way around the Pike screens on the spillway. And in 2006, after a winter of heavy snow pack and spring rains, Lake Davis came within inches of overflowing the spillway entirely, releasing the Pike directly into the Sacramento River system. Still, not willing to admit he has been beaten by a mere fish, Steve Martarano of California Fish and Game gamely insisted, “We’ve gotten better at knowing where the Pike are.” Yeah, Steve: they’re in the water.

Well, in January, 2007, Fish and Game announced plans to try it one more time. In the fall of 2007, as part of yet another $12 million "new" program, about 48,000 acre feet of “rotenone”, a commonly used and “safe” pesticide, were dumped into the lake and, this time, upstream in the lake's tributaries. And this, The Department of Fish and Game assured everyone, would finally kill off "the-Pike-that- wouldn't-die" without killing the people or the local economy...again. We wouldn't know for certain if it worked this time until spring. The ice over Lake Davis was still 12 to 24 inches thick, but under the ice 31,ooo new Eagle Lake Trout have been re-stocked, ranging in size from 8 oz.to 3 lbs. And down there, in the dark water, unseen by human eyes, the battles are occuring that will decide the fate of many a naturalist at Fish & Game. As spring approached they poured in another 1 million Trout. And everybody in California had their fingers crossed. But I've got to tell you, that to me the tale of Lake Davis reads more like Mary Shelly's monster story.

Meanwhile biologists raising endangered California condor chicks use hand puppets to feed the baby vultures, so they have no positive human interaction before they are released. But despite these efforts about a half dozen of the first juvenile Condors freed in the wild chose to hang out at the Pine Mountain Club, a condo resort village down the road from Fraser Park, at the Western end of the Tehachapi mountain range between Central and Southern California, where it seems the birds figured out on their own that their razor sharp beaks and talons designed to rip open animal carcasses worked even better on plastic trash bags and kitchen window screens.

The “naturalist” studying the Condor-condo interaction returned home after a hard day of remote Condor observing via powerful binoculars to discover three of the 30 pound birds and their 10’ wingspans, gallivanting about his bedroom, using it as a sort of playroom and free toilet. They had entered via a slit they made in his window screen. One was in his underwear drawer shredding his shorts while the other two were slowly dissecting his mattress with all the abandon of adolescences free from parental oversight. Still, it almost looked as if the birds had picked out this guy personally to deliver a message, and maybe they had; "Stop watching us, you eco-papparazi!" And the average citizen, like say maybe Russel Crowe, would have gone into that room with a broom and defended his privacy, and he would driven those feathered gangbangers out the way they had come in!

But this guy was a “naturalist”; to avoid human interaction with the feathered truants he retreated until the birds got bored and left on their own. The “naturalists” then convinced local politicians to require all trash to be held inside until the morning of collection, and then placed only in locking containers. And at the landfill the garbage bags would be immediately covered with dirt.

The thinking was that without an easy food supply the condors would leave. Instead the Condor youth gangs’ response was to loom about on the roof of a local restaurant, depressing the hell out of potential customers. The condors were actually waiting for the trash trucks to arrive. They would then use their extraordinary skills at gliding to follow behind the trucks all way to the dump, where they quickly descended on the leftover meat and soup cans and macaroni and cheese containers if they were a dieing wooly mammoth. The front loaders couldn’t cover the trash bags without the risk of burying a condor at the same time, so the meals could now be eaten at leisure in a sort of Condor olfactory buffet. Game, set, and match to the Condors.

The biologists and naturalists were horrified because it didn’t fit their image of noble Condors sailing in an empty sky above an untouched wilderness - which is where the Condors almost became extinct in the first place. Need I point out that not a single condor died at the Pine Mountain Club? They ate too many french fries but none of them died!

The happy ending to this story of rebellious Condors is that once they matured and mated the adult condors didn’t want their offspring growing up in an urban environment anymore than Republicans do. Today, the Pine Mountain Club is condor free, except for a few weeks every summer when the newly adolescent vultures fly in for a sort of avian spring break, a condor rumsringa. They eat spicy food, taunt the humans and stage panty raids on the naturalists. And then they leave.

Now, I’m not suggesting we try protecting endangered species with dynamite or by raising their cholesterol levels, but it does seem that the animals we’re protecting are all in trouble while the ones we’re trying to exterminate are experiencing population booms. What can we learn from this? Well, that there are six billion humans on this planet at present and baring a natural disaster or WMD we are not going anywhere. And if we do, so are the Condors and most of the Pike and Trout. Modern Condors, searching for dinner while soaring above the wilderness are going to see a lot more humans than dead deer. And Pike and Trout are going to meet a lot of little fish with hooks in them. So why not “humanize” them, teach them what every mentally retarded pigeon already knows; the fries are better at Burger King, don’t drink the yellow water, never trust a politician in an election year and don’t go swimming in Lake Davis unless you want your talons bitten off.

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Monday, February 25, 2008


I am an atheist, and yet I have this fantasy that come judgment day God is going to send all the born-again-s and Catholic fanatics (like our current Pope) straight to hell, and, of course, they will go quietly because that is God’s will. And then he will send all other religious believers (Islam, Hindu, Jew and Methodist) one after the other, straight to Hades as well. And they, too, will go obediently because that is God’s will. And then, toward the end of the day, God will dispatch all the atheists to hell and we too will go quietly because we will have to admit that we were wrong.
And then God finally gets to the agnostics and he pauses for a moment. The agnostics smile, thinking God will respect their respect for his greatest gift, the human mind, and how like Mother Theresa they are, since she too doubted. But then God simply orders them, “Go to hell.” The agnostics are outraged. “You can’t do that. It isn’t logical!” they shout. God ignores them and repeats his order; “Go to hell.” The agnostics shout even louder. “We lived good lives not because we feared you, but because we believed in the values of honesty and morality for themselves. And didn’t that make us more honest than all those simpering Christian and Islamic hypocrites?” And God says, “Go to hell.” The agnostics are shocked. “But we were good people”, they wail. “We were good for the right reasons.” And God asks, “Who told you that reason had anything to do with anything?” The agnostics whine, “But we thought…” and God shouts them down, one last time; “Go to hell.”
Okay, it’s not a pleasant fantasy, and it betrays my core Midwestern pessimism more than anything else, and my firm belief that no matter what I do right, I’m going to get screwed in the end. But I’m getting better. In this fantasy everybody else gets screwed, too. Still, I think that most of the anger in this world (including my own) is because people never receive what they truly think they deserve to receive; i.e., this lunatic blogger, Black Velvet Buce Li, who is actually the dopey looking white dude on the right named Greg Letiecq. The guy on the left who looks like a night manager at Dennys is the Republican Governor of Virginia. Now Greg, or Bruce, thinks illegal Hispanic ice cream vendors are spreading leprosy across Northern Virginia and that five illegal Hispanics in Manassas gang-raped a white woman - I guess because Hispanic men are no different than black man – all they dream about is having forced sex with skinny whinny no-butt white women. I tell you, it seems to me at times that most southern white idiots aren’t just bigots; they are also obsessed with rape fantasies. These guys should see a psychiatrist, by court order if that’s what it takes.
According to the Washington Post, a noted “liberal biased” newspaper, Bruce used to be an insurance salesman but now he works as a “computer programmer’ for the defense industry – a programmer being the modern day catch all description that could mean a multi-millionaire genius or a keyboard drone. And I just don’t think Bruce has the time to be a genius, he’s too busy trying to scare everybody within earshot. Of course, he thinks he’s a genius – which is usually the first sign that he is not. Says Bruce; “We’re inspiring people. A lot of people felt like there was nothing they could do.” Do about what, you may ask. I did. It turns out that what Bruce – or Greg – is worried about are illegal aliens. But the truth is Bruce has no idea what true aliens are.
Alfred Webre has an idea. It’s the wrong idea, but he’s still closer to reality than Bruce. One Monday recently Alfred held a media event at the National Press Club and called for a “truth amnesty” for illegal aliens; extraterrestrial illegal aliens, that is. Alfred is talking little green men. He wants E.T. to phone home and use the federal government’s phone card. It is an idea, says Alfred, “…recommended by the extraterrestrials themselves.” Great; now we’re taking policy planning suggestions about the aliens from the aliens? Who the hell do these E.Ts think they are, Rupert Murdoch?!
But, as I said, I don’t think even Alfred knows what a true alien is. The peasants in the little village of Carancas, near Lake Titicaca, along the spine of the Andes in Peru: now, they have an idea. A meteor landed in their laps over the weekend, and this “alien”, this extraterrestrial invader, left a crater 65 feet wide and 22 feet deep. And everybody who looked into the crater and breathed in the strange smells coming out of the hole got sick - and not the good sick, but the bad sick, with headaches, projectile vomiting and diarrhea. Okay the story didn’t mention diarrhea, but how often do national news stories discuss diarrhea? I’m sure it’s a lot more common than the national news media would have you believe.
Aliens from outer space making people sick sounds a bit far fetched. But it seems the bureaucratic scientists at NASA are also worried. They shipped some Salmonella into space last September on the Shuttle, and when the little buggies got back they killed 90% of the mice who ate them, compared with a 60% death rate in the mice control group. That’s right; a short stint in micro-gravity makes the Salmonella bugs twice as deadly to mice. This is not good news for mice. As for humans, well Salmonella is never good news for us. It’s that old diarrhea problem again. And in the techno-babble of NASA induced talk, changes in 167 of the buggies’ genes were not directly caused by the micro-gravity of orbit, but they were indirectly caused by the micro-gravity of orbit - what ever the hell that distinction means.
I swear to God, you can always find something to be afraid of, if that’s what you are looking for. Super Salmonella can still be stopped with proper cooking procedures and a little common sense. Just follow this basic rule; before you put something in your mouth, smell it first. And when in doubt, don’t eat it. And the villagers in Peru are probably not suffering from a space virus, but mass hysteria, which can kill you just as dead as a real disease. But you don’t suffer from hysteria unless you want to. And with the unemployment rate among “legals” at 5%, it seems that every illegal in this country that wants a job has a job – sometimes two. What the hell are we worried about, Judgment Day?
Hey, I’m an atheist and even I worry about Judgment Day. It’s not logical, and I don’t believe in it, but I still worry about it. Whereas Greg Letiecq is the one who ought to be worried.
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