Saturday, April 30, 2011

Timothy Rutten is dismayed about the persistence of "birthers" despite the President's release of his birth certificate. This isn't really new. He fails to mention other manias, such as the "truthers," who believe that 9/11 was perpetrated by our own government, or the JFK assassination hobbyists who are convinced that there was a second gunman. Even now, we're witnessing a new group, or perhaps the re-emergence of one called the "racers" who believe that all dissatisfaction with Obama's performance in office, if one can call it that, is rooted in racism, when a major factor in his election was a desire to demonstrate that Americans aren't racist.

I see all of these as evidence of our growing distrust of our media and a desire to avoid confronting the truth that we essentially allowed ourselves to be made targets of Al Qaeda or that Obama proved to be as inexperienced and inept as was apparent all along to those who considered him objectively without reference to his race. The "racers" are the real racists who insisted that he deserved to be elected because of his race. Recent studies of DNA have shown that race is really a social construct rather than a genetic one.

This is what desperation looks like.

This story reminds me of the old line that people like sincerity and once you can fake that, you've got it made. Funny how people trying to fake being "grass roots" are so easily detected by those who really are. Maybe this guy was really just acting on his own, but his lame tactic of popping up at multiple public meetings to argue with Congressman Ryan is nothing more than old-fashioned cutting in line and is not well received by others nor particularly persuasive once he gets recognized.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how our politically correct society must look to any sane outsider. We have plentiful natural resources which we refuse to develop while paying exorbitantly to others, many of whom hate us and would rejoice if we were made extinct. The are the world only Superpower, yet we're hamstrung by our fear of what the opinion of others will be if we actually stand up for our own values.

We are headed full speed toward financial ruin, driven by people who think that by doing so, they'll be able to justify increasing taxes, while people crying to slow down, stop or reverse course and treated as the crazy, mean spirited ones. Meanwhile, those who should fear this disaster the most are squabbling amongst themselves over choosing a new leader, while the opposition continues unabated.

Will some future anthropologist or archaeologist look at our ruins as we do the great Mayan cities being revealed from the jungles in Central America, and wonder what could have caused such a precipitous collapse?

The answer is that we lost the integrity of our society and became divided over those radical individualists who would brook no laws and those socialists who expected to be given everything by others who don't have the means to do so. Maybe we, like the people who construct the mythic Tower of Babel, will just cease to communicate with each other and scatter to the four winds.

That's why I changed the subtitle of this blog. I don't flatter myself that I will be heard, so I will content myself with making a record for the future post mortem.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My son gave us a cell phone after Christmas and we've both been kind of avoiding it until today when I decided to activate it. After examining all the options and various plans, I concluded that the marketing goal of cell phone companies is to confuse us to the point that we just give up trying to understand what they cost and throw ourselves on their tender mercies. After entering various 19 and 17 digit codes, the T-Mobile website informed me that the SIM was already registered and not available. The phone worked when I first charged it, but now that 90 days have expired, it's become as inert as a hockey puck. When I asked for a new password, the website told me it was sending it via a text message.

The problem is that under any of the Pay As You Go plans, we're going to have end up having minutes that will expire before we can conceivably use them, and we just don't see the utility of paying more than I do now for satellite TV or for internet service on a telephone with spotty coverage and batteries that die in the midst of a conversation. Maybe when they make satellite phones that work as well as satellite TV and radio, I'll get it. Maybe not.

Or maybe the nature of our jobs has just made the sound of a telephone "ring" increase our stress levels. I was a public defender too long and my wife's job is only marginally less stressful.

We've already let the first minutes lapse because neither of us really wanted this thing or could figure it out, although we don't know how much was paid into it in the first place. (Sorry about that. Let us know and we'll reimburse you.) I don't think we should be trusted to used something like this responsibly. Neither one of us leaves home except for Dr. appointments. So we don't see advantages of having a slippery little pocket weight.

We're not Luddites. We don't want to go around destroying cell phones or Blackberries or ruining the fun for everybody else. Not Luddites; just fuddy-duddy-ites, I guess.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jeremy Wade is a crazy s.o.b. His series, River Monsters, on Animal Planet, is in its second season, and makes one wonder about the sanity of going in even fresh water. Of course, he searches out the most nightmarish reports of fish that have killed humans and even large animals like buffalo and horses, and the actual cases seem to be pretty rare, but they're scary enough that it seems insane to trifle with such creatures. The Himalayan goonch, the goliath tiger fish, and this year, the New Zealand long fin eels with poisonous blood or the 250 lb. giant stingray in northwestern Argentina known only as the "river dog", with venom in its skin and a barbed tail with flesh eating toxin, all make shark fishing seem tame. And I won't go into the "ball-cutter" of Borneo.