Thursday, March 31, 2011

Someone's Gotta Get Choked Here

There's mean. There's crazy. And then there's this lady. Apparently, the Wal-Mart in Sandusky, Ohio (yes it's already starting on a depressing note) has its greeters asking to look at receipts for its patrons as they leave the stores with items--and this "woman" decided to express her displeasure with the policy by choking the 71-year old greeter who dared ask for her receipt. I imagine her words were "begone, lowly peon! I am in disagreement with your policy, and shall choke you thusly!" Of course it probably sounded a lot more like moose gruntings. Her violent, animalistic behavior aside--I mean, really, an old man stuck working as a greeter at Wal-Mart? Life has already punished him!--there's the simple fact that the store can enforce this policy on its own premises. The greeters aren't authorized to follow patrons into parking lots, and aren't supposed to detain anyone refusing to show a receipt (that's for store detectives, licensed security guards, etc.) but asking for a receipt is perfectly within their rights. You wouldn't know it to hear some of the commenters on, though, who seem to think that breezing right by a greeter makes them a latter-day Gandhi. News flash--if you don't like an undignified policy that requires showing a receipt when you shop somewhere, then shop elsewhere. You're at the Wal-Mart because you're a cheap bastard--take the indignities that go with it! Likewise, if a bar asked you to pay for your drink before they served you, they could do that too. You can also drink at another bar. I think of this because the Safeway down the street has recently started doing the "receipt check" at their door. My wife thinks it's a stupid policy--after all, they don't look very closely at the receipt, itemizing the charges and comparing with what you have in your bags, and likely don't even look at the date. However, this bit of security theater is presumed to have some deterrant effect on shoplifters, and stores run tight margins--any bit of theft they can deter means lower prices for those of us who don't steal from them. Again, if it's just too undignified, we can shop elsewhere.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Touron Menace

My fury raged to a new boil with yesterday's commute, which avoided the harrowing hell of the 14th Street Bridge and instead took Constitution. Since Cherry Blossom Time began, it has been progressively worse driving into the city--this is because of the Tourons (my wife's term for the less considerate visitors we get) who flock in and weave in and out of traffic and park in the through lanes illegally. Helpful tip--when a sign says you have 3 hour parking until 4 PM, that means you can't be parked there after 4 PM. You will get towed. And motorists who are better armed than me will shoot out your windows. Remember, anything eastbound on Constitution is coming from Virginia, where even the Democrats are pro-NRA. These are not drivers you want to provoke. Of course, the Touron Creed always goes like this--"if it weren't for my boorish clopping around your city, you wouldn't have my tourist dollars to prop up your economy!" Yes, because the $20 you spent at Johnny Rockets before parking for free at the Mall and going into the free museums has kept the city from the brink of financial ruin. Agreed, the presence of tourists--even the buffoonish jerks among them--is to be expected in a fine town like this, but is there no way teach them a lesson or two? For this, I propose all D.C. residents agree to: 1) Once a year, visit the places where the tourons come from. Des Moines, Iowa, Erie, Pennsylvania, Battle Creek, Michigan--you name it, these tourist-deprived areas are about to feel our wrath. 2) Show up with fanny packs, sneakers, baseball caps and bright shirts. We're going for conspicuous, people. 3) Walk in a way that takes over the whole sidewalk. 4) Park wherever. And drive slow. 5) Take forever to do anything. Seat at a restaurant? Ask the hostess whether the burgers come on a plate or you have to bring your own plate. Going into the Cereal Museum? Ask whether the "suggested donation" is required or optional. Yes, the locals in those towns may not like it, but they depend on our tourist dollars! That should more than make up for it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday Annoyance

The drive home yesterday featured a more-annoying-than-usual jam of the traffic variety. (Grape jam is the only jam I can stands!) It was the usual--close start-stop jerky maneuvers, inability to see around the monster-SUVs driven by hate-criminals, and of course sociopaths using the shoulder to sneak ahead and cut into lane. In other words, sharing the 14th Street Bridge with hundreds of people all of whom should be fed into a meat grinder. And yet, if I were to do so, they'd call ME the psychotic. Go figure! And, at the end of my drive, I pull into my garage, to my assigned spot for which I pay a monthly fee, and what do I see? Some clod parked there! In the mood I was in it would have taken very little for me to go blatzurkers with a tire iron and create a bit of modern art out of the offending vehicle. Alas, better senses prevailed, I parked on the street for the night and informed management so they could warn the motorist to move their car or it would get towed. Is the world a better place because I don't carry hand grenades? Well let's just say it's a better place for people who park in others' assigned spots. Them, and I guess the guy who'd have to clean up the car parts.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Burger King Bikini Brawl is Sadly Not Awesome

When I first saw the title "Burger King Bikini Brawl" I could only think to myself "how did they know to put all the things I wanted in one place?" I mean, if you could get a Whopper (TM) and fries while watching some good ole bikini wrasslin', all you'd need then is a cold six pack and you'd wonder if you walked into Valhalla. Alas, after watching the video, this was not to be.

Apparently, in Panama City, Florida (known as "The French Riviera, if it were run by Larry the Cable Guy") some young "women" in bikinis decided to get all violent with some Burger King employees, causing a ruckus and ultimately getting arrested. (Don't search for the mugshots--because what has been seen cannot be unseen) While normally the sight of trashy people acting as you'd expect might bring up a laugh, this scene sort of angered me because of the victims of this shittery.

Consider what the average Burger King employee has to go through on a regular basis. (I worked at a McDs, which I assume is a very similar job environment) Cleaning toilets left nasty by the sort of cheapskate ilk who frequent the joint. Cleaning gross catsup off the floors and furniture. Serving the sort of loud, obnoxious rednecks and ghetto trash who act as though they're doing you a big favor by ordering from you. Not even getting tips if you do your job well. The constant noise, lights, smells of grease, taking out garbage that stinks worse than you ever thought garbage could stink. Wearing a demeaning and uncomfortable uniform. Not being allowed to be armed, even though the job is clearly dangerous. Having co-workers who can totally get you weed but your minimum wage salary has to go towards gas money. Being on your feet the entire time.

And then this. Some trashy, likely drunk, nasty hatchet faced chicks dressed far too revealing (note: bikinis are awesome ONLY on certain bodies. Otherwise, they're an abomination!) decide to take out the frustrations of their obviously empty and dead-end lives on someone who is already in a lousy situation. Bullies, in other words--who know that they can't stand up to the strong (like that gas station attendant who reads far too much "Gun Enthusiast Quarterly") so they pick on an easy target.

My hat's off to you, kind-hearted Burger King employee--for having the strength to do what I couldn't do in your situation: refrain from dunking that hag's ugly head into the deep fryer.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Music Videos Now Easier Than Ever to Make

You know what's wrong with kids today? They're too busy with their hipping and their hopping and taking drugs! (What kind of drugs, Denny, you ask? I needed drugs to buy some stuff!) And while they're doing all their drugs they go ahead and make music videos for songs like this one. In case you've been off the Internets for the past couple weeks, a 13 year old girl named Rebecca Black decided that she needed a shot at stardom (under the "If the Beiber can do it, so can I" rule) so she recorded a song called "Friday" and shot a music video that has gone viral.

Basically, the song and video teach you a number of things:

1) Friday comes after Thursday, and of course, Saturday comes next. Don't bother arguing, it's just a fact.

2) A great party idea is dressing up and hanging out in a parking lot with your underaged friends at night. There is only a marginal chance of being attacked by pedophiles.

3) We are clearly no longer the same country that was able to defeat both the Nazis and the Japanese simultaneously. We are now the country that produces videos like "Friday".

I'm trying to picture how young Rebecca Black got her parents permission (and some cash, I assume, unless she sold a hell of a lot of lemonade in front of her house) to make this thing.

Rebecca: Dad, I want to produce a music video!

Mr. Black: Great idea, Becks! My wallet is on the dresser, next to my crack pipe and a big pile of "I don't f--king think so."

Rebecca: Please, dad? I have a dream of being a star!

Mr. Black: Hey, worked well for Michael Lohan! And this way I won't have to explain all those restraining orders out against me at the office. Let's do it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lame Operation Names

Now that U.S. warplanes are attacking Gadaffi's forces in Libya, American planners needed a cool name for their operation and failing that, they went with a porn-star name, "Odyssey Dawn." (I loved her in "Deep Impact" which strangely isn't even a porn title. Morgan Freeman, what have you done???) Clearly, they've run out of cool names.

"Desert Storm" was pretty good--what could be more frightening than a storm in the desert, what with all the sand and flying camels and stuff? And eek, you might land on a cactus!

"Overlord"--the code name for the 1944 Normandy invasion--was pretty bad-ass as well. Not just a OVERLORD! Bow down before OVERLORD!!!! The Germans must have been shaking at that one.

Of course, the Germans had a cool name too, when they invaded Russia--"Operation BARBAROSSA." Even if you don't get the reference to the medieval knight, it's still an intimidating name. BARBAROSSA SMASH!

During Vietnam, we had "Rolling Thunder" which was a pretty neat name. This was during LBJ's time--when Nixon had his chance to bomb the 'Nam, he went with the name "Linebacker" out of a misunderstanding--see, the Vietnamese don't understand American football. That'd be like attacking the U.S. under an operation called "Batswain" or something obscure like that.

So, "Odyssey Dawn"? Really? That's what we're going with? They should have consulted me. I would have come up with something better.

Like "Operation Crocasaur". I dont' know about you, but I'm not about to screw with any crocasaur. I'm not even sure what one of those is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Chatting with a friend led to the following line of dialogue: "They really should be putting you on a stamp instead of that rotten Mother Theresa". This raised the question of what it really does take to get yourself put on a stamp?

There's always the traditional approach--do something noteworthy, build up a base of fans, and then petition the stamp-issuing authority to put out a stamp featuring you. This is how Elvis did it--and after much controversy about whether to feature the "older Elvis" or the "younger, pre-Army draft, pre-bad movies, pre-bloating Elvis", he was immortalized in stamp form. This is also how the Pacific Blue Hawk did it, and the Mallard Duck--they ended up on stamps of their own. In other countries, simply being in power is enough--Hitler and Stalin and Lenin were on stamps, despite being awful human beings and not being nearly as pretty as a mallard duck.

But there's also another approach--one reserved for those of us who cannot do anything noteworthy or look like ducks or be bloodthirsty dictators. It goes in easy steps:

1) Pick a country with a lot of islands. Indonesia is good, but the Carribean is full of them if you prefer no airport layovers.

2) Get your buddies to inhabit the island, and make friends with the locals enough to outnumber those you're not friends with.

3) Vote to secede from the mother country. Need support? Just promise the U.S. government that the country you're seceding from is totally full of terrorists. (Note--during the Cold War, this would have been "communists" instead of "terrorists", but it's the same principle).

4) Print up your own stamps with your own likeness on them.

5) Profit.

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Annual Charity Beer-a-Thon

A coupple thousand years ago, the city-state of Athens beat the Persians in a battle on Marathon Plain, and afterwards they sent a runner back to Athens to spread the good news. The runner decided that it was important enough to run all the way home without stopping, but not so important that he'd just take a horse, and as a result the guy died immediately after delivering his message. After this tragic result of 26 miles of nonstop running, the Athenians decided that this should be a tradition.

Marathons have sponsored similar events, usually to raise money for charities--read-a-thons, walk-a-thons, even telethons--and now it is time for beer drinkers to do their part for charity. So now, on April 16th, 2011, we're going to start the first annual beer-a-thon for charity.

First, we needed a worthwhile charity--we picked the National Foundation for Cancer Research ( because they're good about putting the money raised directly into the research, and the results of such work can have a host of positive applications. There's also very little controversy--I mean, who's going to come out pro-cancer? Only a real jerk, that's who!

How does the beer-a-thon work?

1) Participants will pledge to drink one beer per hour for as many consecutive hours (up to 24 maximum) as they can. They can also eat and drink and do anything they want during their beer-a-thon, but have to stick to the beer per hour rule.

2) Sponsors for each participant will pledge a certain dollar amount per hour of participation (say, $1 per hour, if the participant goes ten hours, means sponsor pays charity $10).

3) Participants have to act responsibly--no driving after the event, no drinking until poisoned, no drunken fights--and "aides" (who are non-participant attendees) will be there to prevent doing anything unwise.

We're hoping to get this going on an annual basis, in several cities, raising more and more money for charity. I mean, if you're going to drink all day, may as well do it for a good cause.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cinco de Patrick

It's that time of year again--March 17th! This year also happens to be the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification which is totally awesome because before 1861 Italians were all known as "inhabitants of that peninsula in south central Europe that contains disparate city states and used to be the seat of the Roman Empire and they make neat pasta and stuff". This was a severe strain on newspaper copy editors, so they unified the country and they had a great time ever since (despite a 21 year fling with Fascism which proved not to be too fascisional once they made the mistake of teaming with Hitler).

It is also St. Patrick's birthday, apparently--a Roman who became famous to bringing Christianity to Ireland, abolishing slavery there, and other neat stuff. (Much as I rail on Christianity, they're not nearly as lame as Druids. Go back to worshipping mistletoe, hippies!) It is also the occasion that amateur drinkers, frat guys, townies, and various people with a trace of Irish ancestry decide to go out, crowd the bars, and get good and wrecked.

My friends in DC--prompted by the infamous Disaffected Scanner Jockey who came up with the idea--have had a new tradition for a while--going out for Mexican food and drinnks on March 17th, celebrating "Cinco de Patrick" (part II is on May 5th, when we go for Irish food and drink), who rid Mexico of snakes and ensured Irish independence from Napoleon III. This is a good way to remain festive, while avoiding the worst of the crowds.

What will we be eating? Corned beef tacos and Guiness-flavored margaritas, of course!

Ole go bragh!

School is War

I think just about everyone can remember some period in their childhood when they were beset by bullies. If that hasn't happened to you, you were probably too busy leading your army of ninjas in a takeover of a famous landmark or something, since bullying is just pretty common. Generally this will lead the victim to smack the bully, who will either (a) walk away, realizing it's not worth a broken nose even if they pummel their victim, or (b) strike back with furious anger leaving a mess for EMTs and school attorneys to clean up. So with sensitivity to what bullying victims have to go through, this video was heartwarming and put me in a happy place.

In it, you'll see two kids--a skinny punk wearing "jorts" (yes the kid should have been beaten just for that) and a fat kid. Despite the size difference, the skinny kid is clearly picking on the fat kid, repeatedly punching him in the stomach and face, with the fat kid just taking it. Finally, after repeated punchings, the fat kid grabs the skinny kid, and literally body slams him, then walks away leaving the skinny kid--quite fazed--limping away.

Of course, this led to all sorts of consternation from school officials and parents who are clearly failures as human beings. All this crap about "violence never solving anything" is exactly why the Red Chinese are going to make us all slaves for their sugar mines some day. You know what violence solves? It solved bullies like the Nazis, the North Koreans, the Kaiser, and slavery in this country. You know what works better than asking the bully why he feels the need to randomly punch the misfit kid? Maybe the misfit kid smacking the crap out of the bully.

Now, there are times where violence is not an appropriate response to a problem--this is obvious. But one thing a bully doesn't want is to be beaten and humiliated, and the knowledge that their victim might turn out to be someone who can visit that fate on them can be a powerful motivator. I'll venture a guess that the bully in that video will actually be straightened out by the experience and learn to handle his aggression in a much more positive manner.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan's Disaster

The Japanese have suffered a lot--an earthquake that shifted their whole country by 8 feet (making either the Sea of Japan or the Pacific just that much easier to cross), followed by a tsunami and now what may be anywhere from a minor nuclear reactor leak to a major disaster. What is amazing is that considering the severity of what they're going through, they have been containing the damage and helping their victims out at a top notch level.

Consider for a minute if this happened in some failed state, like the Congo or Soviet Union--a major earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor problem would have led to death tolls in the millions and a major refugee problem swamping entire regions. Soon, American Marines would have to land to restore order, and hey, what's this, you guys got oil? Might just stay a while...

But Japan is another story--a modern, advanced country with the wealth and sophistication that comes with it. Consider what we did to them in the Second World War--mass firebombings of their capital, atom bombs devastating two large cities, and encounters with the aforementioned Marines that sent their young men into a meatgrinder on Guadacanal and Tarawa and Iwo Jima. Yet, within decades this country became a major trading partner with an economy that grew to the world's second largest. Any country that went up against the U.S. military would confirm that it doesn't end well for them. While this current crisis is certainly tragic, I have full confidence in the Japanese to persevere and rebuild.

Also, it turns out that raunchy comedian Gilbert Gottfried got into some hot water making tasteless jokes about the Japanese disaster on his Twitter page. Gottfried, you see, is the voice of the AFLAC insurance duck, and AFLAC does the majority of its business in Japan. Oops, someone got fired! While I'm sure the tasteless humor was the comedian's way of coping with the magnitude of the disaster, it makes perfect sense for AFLAC to can him over it. If the Japanese react to slights the way we Americans do, they'd have been facing boycotts and Al Sharptons causing all sorts of trouble.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wedding Craziness, Part III

The drive to the airport began at 5 AM Monday, and did I mention I like Dulles Airport? Because I don't. It sucks! However, Dulles means a direct flight, and direct flights mean less chance for airline magic to screw everything up. Fortunately, the flight down went off fine, with me catching a nice nap even during takeoff, and then was treated to an in-flight movie I'd been planning to watch--"The King's Speech." Apparently, this was about a British prince who went on to become George VI, after his father died and his brother married a Nazi tramp, and the king had to overcome a stutter with the help of an unorthodox teacher who was not Mary Poppins. However, our plane landed early so I missed the very end of the film! Now I'll never know who won the war! (Which is exactly what Hitler would have wanted!)

Landing in sunny Cancun, we're soon at the resort and lapping up the luxury. These resorts are like luxury villages, with massive courtyards filled with pools shaped like rivers, hammocks dipping into the pools, restaurants over the pools, bars IN the pools, and the beaches right next door for those who are into the natural thing. (I find it hard to pass up the pool for the beach when I can order pina coladas in the pools). The resort had several restaurants and bars throughout, plus numerous other activities for the athletically or spa inclined.

And the room--it was a glorious suite, with an upper level with a private wave pool and views of the ocean on one side and the Mexican countryside on the other. A constantly stocked minibar made the wave pool a consistent afternoon destination, and there was much visiting the poolside (and poolINside) bars for every type of frozen cocktail you can imagine. Interestingly, the drinks were delicious but not very strong--had they been standard strength I would have blacked out at 9 AM every day. I think the reason for the weaker drinks and not-so-hot hot tubs was to prevent drunken accidents, which makes sense because we Americans are complete morons when we leave the country. It's as though our IQ drops when we cross our borders--don't believe me? Spend an afternoon observing people at the Louvre. (Note--obviously, our military personell are exempt from this, or otherwise we would have spent both World Wars lost in Canada and asking for directions to the Matterhorn, rather than paying the Germans back for Pearl Harbor)

A week of pure, lazy luxury was well needed, as the months of wedding prep and stress needed some release. We made it back, sad to leave our vacation but happy to start our life together in a glorious springtime in DC.

Here's to many other vacations to follow!

Wedding Craziness, Part II

The reception was what we'd planned--a large party mingling around the food and bar, catching up with one another and whatnot. As the bride and groom we managed to see everyone, at least for a bit--but had little time for food. No matter! We still pulled off the first dance--and our total lack of lessons definitely showed, though it was touching to hear the guests sing along with the song, which everyone knew (Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"--a shout-out to "The Deer Hunter" which I suppose means my buddies and me need to join the Army Rangers and go fight in Vietnam, get captured, and escape while our captors are playing Russian Roulette and one of us stays behind in Saigon and goes mad and kills himself playing Russian Roulette later. As it happens, the current Vietnamese government might have a problem with our little plan, but then they probably don't want to deal with "Brambo--First Blood"). Then cake cutting, more mingling, and back to the hotel bar for the after party.

After party was hopping, our group basically took the place over, and eventually we retired to my new sister in law's room with a late night crowd for the after-after party. With some bonding with the remaining friends, a bit of bourbon and snacks, we finally call it a night, thankful that the next morning my parents set up a farewell brunch for the guests at the hotel, which does a great job of helping cure our hangovers. Tired, hurting, but well fed, we say our goodbyes and thank yous, take a detour to find where to drop off my father in law, run the tux back to the store, and then home to relax before our super-early drive to the airport for the honeymoon . . .

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wedding Craziness, Part I

The wedding extravaganza began two Thursdays ago, with a trip to the courthouse with my special lady and her fambly--her mother having travelled from Australia, her father coming from Nicaragua, and her sister having a comparably shorter trip from Los Angeles. Of course, the father did not have a cell phone and tracking him down on the streets of Arlington was a bit of a challenge, but it worked out--the legal side of everything was taken care of, and we were officiated by an attorney and standup comedian whose law office was next door to Jerry's Subs and Pizza. Romantical it sure was!

With final errands put together and meeting my own fambly for dinner that evening, the next day came upon us with the infamous rehearsal. As with all rehearsals, it was choppy and left me wondering if things would come together better on the big day (they did--people somehow seem to get their rhythm in the key moment). Shortly, the whole gang--wedding party, musicians, MC, and families--were off to a fancy dinner nearby. Unfortunately, the restaurant could not give us our private room right away--another party had arrived an hour late for their own reservation and were still lingering despite having the check paid and finished all food. At one point, a particularly rude woman at the table made a snide comment about our hovering.

This was the point where the ole "rage cauldron" began to bubble up, which would shortly lead to an embarrassing incident involving table jumping and untoward actions that could ruin the night. As it happened, it didn't come to that as my sister in law managed to convince management to drive these squatters out of there pronto, with what threat, I do not know. But we did seat, about a half hour late, and began our meal.

Toasts were exchanged, food was eaten and wine drunk, and afterwards it was time to head down to the bar to meet friends for drinkage. Out of nowhere, some drunk dude grabs my special lady as if to kiss her. Eek! As my feebled brain tried to process this in the mere seconds that passed, a friend of mine with lightning quick reflexes grabs the drunk guy by the throat and pulls him back, informing the bouncer that the guy needed to go. It was a bit surreal, and we soon left ourselves. For wedding tradition, I headed back by Metro alone to the apartment that night--it was around 2 AM.

Of course, I'm pretty tired and drunk at this point, and fall asleep on the Metro. I am awoken by the conductor who tells me it's the end of the line--which, due to track maintenance, would that night be at Stadium Armory (four stops from my stop). Fortunately for me, I'm able to simply take the last train of the night back in my direction (though from there I could have walked if necessary) and thanking my lucky stars that the Metro wasn't going its normal full route that night--otherwise, I'd have awoken out in Largo, likely after the last train back to the city had left, and without adequate cab fare. Eek!

Wedding day comes, and I cure the old hangover with brunch with friends, and run final errands (desserts, etc.) before heading to the hotel to put on tux, get photos with the gang, and start the ceremony. Turnout is great--only one no-show, and we're at total capacity--and the ceremony goes off without a problem. Everyone looks great--especially my new wife, whose dress was kept hidden from me for months--and the ceremony is brief and flawless. Next step--getting over 90 people (many infirm!) from the cereomony location to the reception in short time, while having formal photos taken with party and famblies.

Photos start going well (we even got some shots of the guys in tuxedoes with a football, as a reference to cult classic "The Room"), we get the couple, the rings, the wedding party, my fambly, and now . . . wait, her mom took one of the shuttles to the reception already, before photos? Eek! A phone call is made, she's put back on a return shuttle, we get the photos, and off to the races! The long-planned reception . . .

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Funeral Protests Still Legal

Being a bit of a law buff, I try to follow major legal decisions when I can (usually when I'm the defendant! Hey, is this thing on?). One big piece of news today is the U.S. Supreme Court's near unanimous decision in favor of the free speech rights of the Westboro Baptist Church.

To sum it up--the WBC is a fundamentalist Christian church led by a pastor named Fred Phelps which is--not unlike many mainstream churches--opposed to homosexuality. But not in the usual "hate the sin love the sinner" and "stop choosing to be gay and start choosing Jesus" sort of way we're used to. Nope, this gang actually believes that the U.S. is far too lenient towards homosexuals (who of course are gonig to burn in hell) and that any tragedy befalling us, ranging from 9/11 to soldiers killed in action overseas, is caused by this. Not content just to believe such awful and crazy stuff, the WBC makes sure no line of offensiveness is uncrossed, and they have been actually picketing soldiers' funerals, cheering the death and blaming it on our country's permissiveness on the gay thing.

(First off--really? God isn't really concerned about the fact of us going to war itself, or letting people starve, or even working on Sundays, but it's the acceptance of homosexuals that caused our misfortunes??? Er....okay....)

Naturally, this came to the Court's attention because a lot of justifiably offended people wanted to bar these protesters from the funerals, suit was filed, and so forth. I agree with the Court's decision--our First Amendment rights apply to offensive speech or otherwise it's a hollow doctrine. Of course, one way to deal with the WBC folks is to have the funerals in privately operated locations, or craft a content-neutral local ordinance that prohibits loud noises or distracting signs or something like that.

But the dominant reaction whenever I read about these WBC people is bewilderment--clearly this is beyond the level of religious absolutism or random bigotry. These people are very likely insane and perhaps a danger to themselves or others. Normal people simply would not behave this way.

Their loved ones--if they have any left--should really get them some help.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hugo Chavez is a Big Fat Thug

I rarely find myself sympathetic to Pat Robertson's point of view--he seems one of those religious conservative leaders who would do better focusing on helping the unfortunate and strengthening community than moralizing about gays. But a few years back, he got into hot water over suggestion on air that the United States should just go ahead and assassinate Venezuelan Thug-in-Chief Hugo Chavez.

Now, at a time when the Arab World is finding it a perfect moment to jettison their own tyrants, Chavez opens his stupid mouth with the usual inanities about the U.S. trying to use the Libyan revolts as an excuse to invade that country. Because apparently the Iraq invasion was such an upside success--after all, oil prices have been dropping steadily since 2003, right?--that we're just aching to do it again in Libya. Chavez's conspiracy theories might hold water in the most fevered minds of Berkely Burnouts, but does anyone take him seriously anymore?

The sad thing is that this pig-man has a firm hold over what was once a democratic country rich in resources. Venezuela should, by any account, be the jewel of South America. It has long had a larger middle class than many of its neighbors, and its oil reserves give it an opportunity few nations have to buttress its growing prosperity. And this bloated pile of filth has squandered these resources and done more to set back any economic or social progress, all while increasing political violence and causing trouble for its neighbors (notably, Colombia). What a worthless goon--it's telling that Mommar Cadaffi is likely to flee to Venezuela after his people come looking for his head to put on the end of a pike.

So it's understanding that Robertson--not so much as a forgiving "man of Jesus" but as a regular man given to human reactions when faced with injustice--suggested the U.S. whacking this dictator. Not to say such a move would be wise--when's the last time we "took out" a foreign leader without a lot of consequences that made things worse?

Hopefully the Venezuelans will knock this guy off his perch by themselves.

Screeching Death Pain Local Whiskey

One thing I've never understood about my friends who own homes with basements and back yards is why they've never put in a whiskey still. You can bet that the minute I sign papers on a house I'm going to check out a book on how to properly build and maintain the device, and then it's just a matter of time before I'm a suburban sophisticate sipping bits of finery. Will I make this home business go legit and sell whiskey on the local market? You bet your hangover, good sir!

I've decided that this whiskey will be aged in an oak cask, traditional style, with bits of pine floating in there for flavor. The bottles will feature prominently the brand name--"Screeching Death Pain Local Whiskey"--and will come in three sizes: "dilletante", "gift size" and "ready for business".

See, when travellers of a certain type--by which I mean the elusive East Coast Beer Snob type--come rolling into a given town or neighborhood, they tend to look down the row of taps at a bar and pick out one they've never seen before. Why get a Miller Lite when there's a tap for "Angus Snuffle's Lager of Fury"? But the microbrew market suffers from a low price per gallon, and an oversaturated market. Whiskey, on the other hand, doesn't have this problem--and just imagine the demand for intricate local whiskeys when East Coast Whiskey Snobs come ambling into town. This could be the wave of the future.