Friday, December 29, 2006

The Outdated Almanac 2006

Congratulations on your purchase of the Outdated Almanac 2006. Yeah, right! You didn't buy this! Let me rephrase this intro: Once upon a time, it was dark and stormy night...

Ah, to hell with it. You know what's coming! Just like everyone else on the Internet, I'm doing a year-end roundup. But unlike everyone else, I'm tapping an untapped market: my own words. What follows is a best-of list (or worst-of list, depending on your viewpoint) of my work here at Not Right throughout 2006. This was a wacky year with many ups and downs, both personal and political. One thing that has remained the same, however, is my compulsion with chronicling these events. And while this collection is by no means a complete roundup of the year, it does capture what went through my mind during this tumultuous time.

So what qualifies an entry to be on this list? I considered several factors, though "greatness" wasn't one of them because that doesn't narrow anything down. After eliminating the semi-regular short takes (Caption Central, Not Right News, P.I.M.P. dispatches, etc.) and most of the more malnourishing blurbs, I was left with a bunch of essays, rebuttals and graphics. Sifting through those, I considered 1) their coherence and cohesion as stand-alone writings and 2) how much they stirred up reader response. After all, what's the point of a good article if it doesn't divide Americans? Seriously, though, the below list reflects what I believe is the best work I've self-published this year. Enjoy...again!

Taking A Stand
Don't You Wish Your Nation Was Hot Like Mine? (4/5)
Why America is sometimes like the world's testy trophy wife.

Emma Great Shun (4/6)
Say it aloud and you'll understand.

Sermon from an Irreverent Reverend (4/18)
The speech I would give if, by some perverted turn of events, I was slated to address a convention of religious people.

Vexing Logic About the Flag (7/7)
Flag-burning is lame. Almost as lame as those who wish to stop it. The title of this post is a pun on the word for flag studies, vexillology. Bet you got it right away, didn't ya?

Dubya Dubya III (7/18)
Why I disagree with Newt Gingrich that WWIII is afoot. Gets technical.

Religious War: Beyond Belief (8/3)
I could go on all day about this. Hell, all week!

Cakes and Candles Not Necessary (9/11)
Five years later, 9/11 is old enough to start kindergarten. But who really needs to learn?

Time to Take Back the Talk (10/7)
Sparked by a conversation I had at a party, I muse on the hijacking of patriotic words by the far right.

Limits are for Fishermen (10/13)
My argument against term limits.

Kerry is so very, very... (11/2)
Democrats apologize too much. A look into why they need to stop letting the GOP paint them into corners.

The Message in '06? 86 'em! (11/9)
Democrats sweep Congress. Time for a cool change.

A Matter of Carbon Sense (11/17)
Starting in 2007, Louisiana will become smoke-free in almost every public place. Rock on!

In Defense of O.J. Simpson... (11/21)
What's worse than reading O.J.'s purely hypothetical explanation of How He Did It? Censoring that purely hypothetical explanation.

Spank This! (12/13)
Why I think spanking is bad. The comment section is probably the most informative and enlightening seen here all year.

Louisiana Ian
A Martin Luther Xing in Lafayette? (2/9)
A look at the biggest local debate of 2006, and how every single angle of this debate (pro, con or otherwise) was ridiculous. Postscript: the issue was finally settled Dec. 19 (!!), with a portion of Willow Street being designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Parkway. The name is as binding as one of George W. Bush's voluntary pollution regulations. See what happens when governments refuse to listen to me?

This picture netted 45 comments?!!

Personal Ponderings
Narrow Minds Make Great Insulation (3/31)
A pet peeve of mine is hearing people who have lived their entire lives in one place insist that they live in paradise. Such unquestioning love for one's home base never seems to originate from people who have seen other places.

Monday Morning Musing: Hard Worker, Work Harder (10/23)
Why is it that those who prove themselves in the workplace always seem to be punished right along with the slackers? Or have their skills and work ethic rewarded with even tighter oversight? I have to remind myself not to repeat this rant every week.

The Pimpin' Pumpkin P.A. (10/31)
A cool Halloween story about my grandfather's clever karaoke pumpkin, which was a bright spot in a scary neighborhood.

Taking You To School
What's My Votivation? (4/17)
In grade-school politics, the term "name recognition" takes on extreme meaning. A story about my shallow method of choosing student-council candidates, and how it unfortunately represents the attitudes of many American voters.

Pick-Up Lines Throughout History (6/14)
You'll either love 'em or hate 'em. Either way, you'll learn something. Originally written in early 2003 as one of my first graduate-school assignments. I actually had to try one of them in class, in front of everyone. The girl just gaped at me, in awe of my genius. At least that's what I've convinced myself.

Monday Morning Musing: Middle-School Diplomacy (7/31)
A startling parallel exists between the Bush foreign policy and that time in 6th grade when I punched some random kid in the stomach.

Stuff I Wrote While Mad
I Love Lucidity (3/5)
When do aspirations become so hard to achieve that they're no longer worth it? A profound treatise sparked by my inability to play an old Back to the Future video game.

Parallel: Parking (10/26)
At a time when my perception of my southern brethren was at an all-time low, I got to witness everything I despise about them in one ugly incident. And where other people might have channeled that rage into guns, fistfights or vehicular homicide, I turned it into a written parallel of American society. Doesn't everyone?

Stuff I wrote in Utah
Mountain: the Neglected Time Zone (7/4)
In honor of America's birthday, I see some of it. Fun ensues.

A Composite Conversation I Had in Salt Lake City (7/10)
For those of you wondering why Katrina aid for New Orleans seems to not be a national priority, you only have to click here to understand why.

Missiles for Missionaries (7/13)
While riding a bike in Salt Lake City, I got mistaken for a Mormon missionary. How that happened, I'll never know. Some teenage punk threw a smoothie at my face. That I can understand.

Re-learning how to breathe in Utah

Making Fun of Things
The Trappings of Lent (3/2)
It's the same joke I've made for years, in blog form: I'm giving up smoking for Lent, because I don't smoke and I know I can maintain that sacrifice. I also rhetorically asked why fish wasn't considered meat, and actually got a somewhat satisfactory answer! Who says you can't learn anything from reading this stuff?

Nothing 'By Numbers' About Clinton (4/26)
A scathing critique of the official Bill Clinton presidential portrait, from the point of view of the Clinton-hating press of the late 1990s. Stuffy, as all good art critiques should be.

Liquids, Humans Banned from Planes (8/11)
A nice piece of satire I liked so much I posted it on Daily Kos. I never do stuff like that!

Tips for Surviving Black Friday (11/24)
Jokes about the day after Thanksgiving, widely (if inaccurately) considered the biggest shopping day of the year. As a budding George Plimpton, I found myself embroiled in this chaos for the first time. It was actually funner than I would have imagined! But the tips presented here are, nevertheless, very good advice.

The 12 Months of 06 (12/23)
A song describing this year's events, sung to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas." Nuff said!

The end product of some lengthy LSU debates

Book Review: Lapdogs (6/6)
Simon and Schuster's Free Press sent me this book and asked me to review it for Not Right (which they mentioned by name). I did. Look for the quotation on the paperback edition any day now: "Lapdogs so effectively destroys the myth of a 'liberal media' that its readers might feel guilty even mentioning the book to their conservative friends, knowing the rhetorical beat-down it will cause." --Ian McGibboney, Not Right TV (Comedy Central)

Borat: Reviewing of Film for Make Glorious Blog of Not Right (11/15)
As American journalist, I see documentary film Borat. Is very reportery movie. Borat talk to many Americans for hilarious and gets in fight with naked fat producer over Pamela Anderson virgin book. I throw up my Ike-Mikes and cop-porn! Haven't had this much jolly in theater since I kiss American girl during Tom Hanks movie The Thing That You Do. My date loved Borat too! She sister.

Sports Punditry

New Orleans Goes for Bush (4/30)
Fooled EVERYBODY! Damn, I'm good!

So This is What Winning Feels Like... (9/26)
Go Saints! Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints Saints!! But you know who really won that night? New Orleans.

H.S. State Championship: A Whiff of Sulphur (12/8)
Sometimes I wish I were a football coach, because I think I'd be good at motivational speeches. Especially if I utterly hated my team with every fiber of my being.

Why the Saints Were Smart to Lose (12/18)
Written after the Redskins embarrassment, this piece is my first-ever attempt at positive thinking. It worked, so now I'm hoping for more bad things to happen so I can be positive about them. Just kidding! But it did feel good to be optimistic. And, believe it or not, that's exactly how I feel going into 2007. Good things are afoot for Team McGibboney! Hope they are for you as well.

Sincere thanks to all of you who took some time to read Not Right this year. The world needs more people like you...both to read my blog and to affect change in the world. Peace!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The 12 Months of 2006

In the first month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
Alito, who is scary

In the second month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
Dick shooting doves
And an old man hit by BBs

In the third month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
New shark breeds
Slobodan dead
And a woman prez in Chile

In the fourth month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
Bold walling words
Re: aliens
Saints go for Bush
And a partridge with the bird flu

In the fifth month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
More walling words
Re: aliens
Never really stopped
And the new guard in Israel

In the sixth month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
Nixed al-Zarqawi
Full color pics
Sharpest lens
World out for blood
Women can vote as Kuwaitis

In the seventh month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
Talk of conflict brimming
Middle Eastern slaying
Castro’s ailing words
Doped-up Yank
Wins Tour de France
And did I mention World War III?

In the eighth month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
Hate Mel’s–a-milkin’
Arms they’re-a-layin’
No cream on planes
John Mark Karr
Claims JonBenet
And one fewer planet to see

In the ninth month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
“Fine laddies dating”
E-mails Mark Foley
Spinach stops a-selling
Space shuttle flying
Brees calling plays
At Superdome
Steve Irwin’s stung
And the Pope makes Muslims angry

In the tenth month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
Rush logic leaping
Jersey gays romancing
Amish shot in killing
Immigration dimming
Friday the 13th
300 mil
Census counts
North Korean nukes
And a botched joke by John Kerry

In the eleventh month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
Baghdad pipe bombs piping
Saddam’s a-hanging
Iran’s a-testing
Muslim Minnesotan
Sworn in public office
Russian spy poisoned
Rumsfeld resigns
Borat rocks
A new Congress
Brought to you by the letter D

In the twelfth month of 0-6
My news feed gave to me
War drummers numbing
Even Rumsfeld's griping
LT keeps on leaping
Britney Spears’ dancing
Not worth the milking
The swan song is brimming
For those who’re lying
HERE’S TO 0-7!
I’m calling you
To wish you
Happy Holidays
There’s a cartridge under the tree!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Apologies to all my readers

I have no idea why my default text is greenish all of a sudden. Must be one of those "great" new "innovations" Blogger keeps telling us about.

Template changes apparently coming soon!

(EDIT: Apparently this was a trick played by my lying eyes. I noticed it when the normally white letters on my keyboard were also green for some reason. This is why I'm Not Right About Anything. Ignore this post.)

Bush wary of war for once

Stalemate awareness rate rises 2 percent

Washington Post--President Bush acknowledged for the first time yesterday that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq and said he plans to expand the overall size of the "stressed" U.S. armed forces to meet the challenges of a long-term global struggle against terrorists.

The link leading to this article read: WP: Bush says U.S. not winning in Iraq. Which I guess isn't technically misleading. But it does possess a significant WTF-factor that forces you to figure out just what on God's Greenhouse Earth compelled Bush to say we're not winning in Iraq. After all, it's true.

"We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. The assessment was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections, declared, "Absolutely, we're winning."

See, now this is why I didn't vote for Bush in 2004. The guy is a total flip-flopper on the war. We need someone with courage of conviction who is willing to stay the course and support the war on terror. How dare Bush say such things and undermine our troops!

But, thanks to the extremely biased media, Bush will probably garner widespread support for saying such things. With their war agenda, the press will probably twist the president's extremely ambiguous words. Thank Jesus we have Fox News, probably the only outlet courageous enough to cite Bush's quote the way he really meant it!

Bush: U.S. 'not losing' in Iraq

Actually, Fox News' treatment leads like this:

President Bush: Increase Needed in Size of Army, Marines

WASHINGTON — President Bush said Wednesday that the U.S. needs to expand the size of the Army and Marines to meet the challenges of the War on Terror, and has asked new Defense Secretary Robert Gates to begin the process.

"I'm inclined to believe that we need to increase in — the permanent size of both the United States Army and the United States Marines. I've asked Secretary Gates to determine how such an increase could take place and report back to me as quickly as possible," Bush said in an opening statement during his year-end news conference with White House reporters.

Only one day later and both Bush and Fox are focusing on the issue that makes Bush look slightly less bad. Not winning, not losing? Gasp!! More troops needed? Why, that's All-American machismo! Everybody sing along...G.I. JOE! The sheer testosterone of this article is checked only by the most simian picture of Bush anyone's ever seen.

There's only one problem with such a feel-good solution: according to the WaPo, everyone thinks it's a bad idea.

He confirmed that he is considering a short-term surge in troops in Iraq, an option that top generals have resisted out of concern that it would not help...A substantial military expansion will take years and would not be meaningful in the near term in Iraq...A force structure expansion would accelerate the already-rising costs of war. The administration is drafting a supplemental request for more than $100 billion in additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of the $70 billion already approved for this fiscal year, according to U.S. officials. That would be over 50 percent more than originally projected for fiscal 2007, making it by far the most costly year since the 2003 invasion.

None of these figures pepper the Fox report, with that article instead moving on the other subjects such as the "strong" economy. The Fox feed takes seven paragraphs to even approach the stalemate remark; but Bush takes that opportunity to correct his unintentional lapse of truth:

But Bush would not say that he believes the United States is failing in Iraq, which was a shade different from a remark he made a day earlier to The Washington Post in which he said the U.S. is not winning in Iraq.

"The first comment was done in this spirit: I believe that we're going to win. I believe that -- and, by the way, if I didn't think that, I wouldn't have our troops there. That's what you've got to know. We're going to succeed,' Bush said. "My comments yesterday reflected the fact that we're not succeeding nearly as fast as I wanted, when I said it at the time, and that the conditions are tough in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad."

The mainstream media would have attempted to corner Bush by asking such rude questions as, "What part of 'We're not winning' was spoken in the spirit that 'We're going to win?'" But good ol' Fox News has more respect for the Oval Office than that! Where would Bush be without Fox? Probably where he deserves to be. Texas.

Taken from any angle, Bush's remarks suggest at least a timid slither toward a tiny hole in the enormous brick fortress enclosing his mind. He's not winning, but he's slightly less of a loser. At least until he dismisses his trip into open-mindedness by assuring us that he will continue to stay that craggly course. That's the spirit!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why the Saints were smart to lose

Some might look at the Saints' 16-10 reaming by the Washington Redskins as a total shutdown of a generally excellent football team. Others might be reminded of the infamous 2002 squad, which dropped its final three games after starting 9-4 and missed a million loopholes that would have meant playoffs. In any case, most of Louisiana is moping around (I checked, and it wasn't pretty). To those people I ask: what are you worried about? This is the single most clever move Sean Payton has made yet!

Think about it:

--Throughout the season, the Saints' fortunes have hinged almost entirely on their ability to avoid turnovers. Put simply: whenever they don't fumble, they win. But with a combination of key turnovers, lousy offense and porous defense, the Saints proved that they can lose in more ways than one. This multi-faceted approach to losing will upset opponents' strategies for weeks to come.

--With the NFL's top-ranking offense, the Saints are a formidable scoring force. They are proficient with the long ball and have the league's most talented backfield in Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister and Mike Karney. Against the Redskins, however, even Devery Henderson and Marques Colston often dropped easy passes. But fear not! The obvious message here was this: "You ain't gonna stop us. Only WE can stop us!" Saints fans should be honored to have an offense so in control that they can drop passes with such precision!

--The Saints' rush defense is like a pair of crotchless panties: they almost do the job, but they're wide open where it counts. The secondary, on the other hand, is the finest-tuned in the league. Catching up to opposing receivers makes for a thorough cardiovascular workout, thus improving the health of the D-back unit as a whole.

--By dropping the game to the Redskins so badly, the Saints have introduced a third component to their rotation. Before, opponents had to guess which of two New Orleans teams would show up that day: the Awesome, NFC-Chomping Champion Saints or the Turnover-Laden Sloppy Saints. Now already confused teams will face a new third choice: the Shamelessly Shitty Saints. It's just another way to keep opponents off guard. Kudos!

--Sean Payton's squad has shown that they aren't afraid to take chances. Instead of clinching the NFC South at home with a decisive victory, the Saints sat back and let the Falcons, Panthers and Vikings all lose to seal the deal. This was smart thinking on New Orleans' part; not only did the Saints graciously delegate a sense of purpose to non-playoff-bound teams, but they also allowed their best players to rest for the playoffs.

--True to form, the Saints left it all on the field. And that field was Texas Stadium, which will prove beneficial in the likely event that New Orleans meets the Cowboys there in the playoffs.

So, Saints fans, don't despair! Everything that this squad does is part of a strategy. A strategy so cunning that it even fools the fans. It's clever. It's brilliant. It's classic Payton.

Unless, of course, they just flopped against the Redskins. In which case they sucked.

The past 11 months and 16 days in review

(Stolen from practically everybody)

1) Where did you ring in 2006?
A subdued get-together at someone else's house. It was fine, but lame by comparison to 2004 and 2005.

2) What was your status by Valentine's Day?
Being considered for the, I mean, single. By choice. I was dumped on Valentine's Day years ago, and only once have I ever been attached for it. I'm definitely in the "screw it" faction regarding Feb. 14.

3) Were you in school (anytime this year)?
No. And considering that it was the first year since 1983 that I hadn't been in school, I really had trouble dealing with it.

4) How did you earn your keep?
Miles away from how I thought I'd be doing it...but keeping hope alive.

5) Did you ever have to go to the hospital?
No...fortunately, frustration is not a physical injury.

6) Did you ever encounter the police?
My friend is an Asset Protection cop at a major department store. I check on him frequently to assess his protection of the assets.

7) Where did you go on vacation?
New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The toll was two days' worth of driving through Texas; but it was worth it for a month in the great American West!

8) What did you purchase that was over $500?
I don't think I spent more than $150, and that was for my 2007 supply of soft contacts.

9) Did you know anybody who got married?
Lots of people I know (or once knew) got married, but I didn't go to any of their weddings. Not that I even keep track of such things anymore.

10) Did you know anybody who passed away? last remaining grandparent.

11) Have you run into anybody you graduated high school with?
Well, yeah, because Lafayette is a small world. Fortunately, this is the first time in two years that a mini-reunion didn't happen at a classmate's funeral (in addition to the Iraq casualty in 2004, two classmates died here in a two-month period in 2005).

12) Did you move anywhere?
If you count the month I stayed in Utah, yeah. It was actually a tough decision to come back home. I loved the outdoors and the quiet nights, and I weighed several potential jobs there.

13) What sporting events did you go to?
Maybe one UL football game. Guess I'm bored with local sports after 11 or so die-hard years. But I barely go a day without watching Saints games or highlights.

14) What concerts did you go to?
I saw several of my sister's high-school chorus concerts. I also listened to numerous 80s CDs.

15) Are you registered to vote?
Absolutely...since 1998!

16) If so, did you do your patriotic duty on Nov. 7?
Hell yes I did! Can't you tell? Actually, my Congressman, Charles Boustany won re-election with 71 percent of the vote, in probably the only GOP landslide in the you probably couldn't tell.

17) Where do you live now?
In a transitory state, hoping to reverse my fortune in 2007.

18) Describe your birthday?
My grandmother's funeral was elegant and classy.

19) What's the one thing you thought you would never do but did in 2006?
I actually took a scheduled trip across the country! The money ran out in 2004 and Rita killed plans in 2005...but the third time was the charm!

20) What is one thing you regretted this year?
Not being able to look back on 2006 with much fondness.

21) What's something you learned about yourself?
Probably more than I ever will in any subsequent year. Mainly I've discovered how others perceive me (for better of for worse), and that seeing bad behavior in others compels me to refine my own personality.

22) Any new additions to your family? parents are too old for that sort of thing, and I love the world too much to spawn.

23) What was your best month?
Not counting the entire Saints season (knock on wood!), probably July. The month I "lived" in Utah.

24) What pop culture will you remember 2006 by?
I rarely dip into current pop culture anymore...but I've had "The Saints Are Coming" by U2 and Green Day in my head all month, so it'll probably be that.

25) How would you rate this year with a scale from 1 (shitty) to 10 (excellent)?
1, which is a significant improvement over 2005.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Because when Jeb Bush is your governor, death is a sweet, sweet blessing

Executions to be halted in Florida

Some jokes:

--The moratorium came after inmate Angel Diaz took 34 minutes to die due to a botched lethal injection. Apparently, it's just as hard to punch a vein in Florida as it is to punch a ballot.

--Diaz was in jail for the 1979 murder of a strip-club manager. Apparently, Diaz was mad that he couldn't last 34 minutes in the club.

--Gov. Bush has said that no more death warrants will be signed until March, once his investigative panel files its official report. Once the commission inevitably declares that lethal injection is just hunky-dory, Bush is expected to catch up on that stack of death warrants.

Okay, so that last one isn't much of a joke. But it is kind of funny to see a Bush scratch his head at the death penalty. It almost gives one a quiver of hope that all is not lost in that family. Most amusing, indeed!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What it takes to be a writer in Lafayette

But, if you're faced with a moment of silence at a concert, make it worth your time to actually get results from what you yell. Requests should match the situation. Larry the Cable Guy, for instance, likely would have been more responsive had the guy yelled "Git-R-Done!" Because, if you know Larry the Cable Guy, you know his Freebird is the catchphrase "Git-R-Done!"

Oh, my head hurts...

If you're faced with a headache, make it worth your time to actually get results from the medicine you take. Medicine should match the symptom. A headache, for instance, likely would have been more responsive had I taken headache medicine. Because, if you know headaches, you know that headache medicine is good for headaches.

There...that little clip should help me in my bid to be the Times of Acadiana's medical reporter...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Spank this!

Most issues have two opposite arguments that are somewhat compelling. Even if you find yourself vehemently disagreeing with one of those stances, you can understand why someone would conceivably believe it. Issues such as abortion and welfare come to mind.

But there's at least one issue for which I cannot even begin to fathom a justification: spanking.

Stay with me for a moment: I'm not arguing that children shouldn't be disciplined or otherwise held accountable for their actions. I'm not even saying that an unruly child will be traumatized for life by an occasional light slap on the wrist. But it's time we disallowed the barbaric beating that too many children endure under the guise of "parenting."

Spanking bothers me for numerous reasons, the main one being that I have yet to see evidence that it works. Sure, lots of people speak proudly of how they had the crap beaten out of them as a kid; but just as many Death Row felons could say the same thing. Conversely, non-spanked children probably grow up with same ratio of good apples to bad. As with anything else, how a person turns out in life rides on many different factors. To hear the pro-corporal-punishment crowd tell it, only physical discipline puts young people in line. You’d think they’d at least have some proof before alleging that.

Another issue involves the attitude of the parents. Spanking is apparently written into the Louisiana Constitution, and thus is a very common occurrence both in public and in private. When I see unruly kids get whipped in public, I don't see a benevolent parent giving their children what they deserve; I see a desperate adult who has failed as an authority figure and can’t decide what to do next. I see the same immature responses that got me in trouble as a kid when I would fight my siblings.

I'll be the first to admit that I frequently fought my older brother, whether out of anger or for fun (like when we pretended to be the guys from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!). But boys roughhouse like that. Regrettably, I also slapped or spanked my little sister several times in my life. But those occurred when I was young myself, and they were always soft, spur-of-the-moment blows that I immediately regretted. And she's gotten her licks in on us as well.

Older parents, however, should know better. Much better.

No, I don't have kids. Nor do I want them. But I was a kid once, and an occasionally spanked one at that (though my parents generally frowned upon it). One of my earliest memories is seeing my cousin get his pants yanked down by his dad (on my great-aunt's front porch) and get spanked until his butt was bright red. He was three years old. Maybe. His cries have always stayed with me, even as the actual infraction has long since faded away. I've seen similar incidents play out hundreds of times in the years since, and they've all struck me for the sheer effort put into them by the parents.

Most whippings I've witnessed involve a brief pause beforehand. This serves to heighten the tension for the child, and perhaps gives the executor a moment to reflect on it. Or anticipate it. Whatever. It does prove to me that the parent premeditates it, which is frightening. The ones I've seen in public smack of almost theatrical proportions, as if they’re seeking approval from bystanders. Sometimes they get it. Not from me.

Parents often say to their children, "This will hurt me more than it hurts you." Not from what I've seen. Those who advocate corporal punishment speak of it with a particular relish, as if they're happy that they can consider this. I detect more than a little hope that they have to enforce it. It's not unlike giving a gun to a trigger-happy Minuteman on the Mexican border, and telling him that no jury will convict him if he uses it. He will, and gladly. Never mind that, in any other circumstance, he would probably be hauled off to jail.

In America, children are disallowed from indulging in such adult vices as drinking, smoking, gambling and pornography. The mentality behind this is that kids are unprepared to exercise the maturity necessary to partake in such things. And yet, children are not protected from beatings from adults. If two adults start a fight, they will get arrested for assault or disturbing the peace; so why do we allow parents to exercise various forms of abuse on children?

Yes, I’ve heard all the justifications. "It’s how I was raised." "They don’t respond to anything else." "It’s for their own good." "It’s all I know." Funny how none of those excuses are acceptable for other forms of child neglect or abuse…

Intentionally or not, a parent who spanks their child sends them this subtle message: "Sometimes, violence is the only answer." This message rings loud and clear for schoolyard bullies and juvenile delinquents all over America. And thus the cycle continues.

Obedience through fear is not respect. Projecting your childhood trauma on your children is not discipline. The primal urge to control will not breed a generation of behaved kids. Spanking is one form of perverse nostalgia that belongs in the past.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Why blonde jokes exist

While pumping gas Saturday night, I noticed an SUV with two cute blondes pull up beside me. The girl behind the wheel (who was nearest the pump) cracked her window to flick a cigarette! She then jumped out and continued to smoke right next to the pump. A teenage guy next to her said, "You really shouldn't do that," to which I chimed in, "Yeah, that's a really bad idea. In fact, that's the stupidest thing I've ever seen." Ignoring me, she said to the other guy, "You're right. But what's the worst that could happen?" At that point, her friend got out of the SUV and hustled into the store.

Blonde One momentarily weighed the pros and cons of smoking next to the most combustible substance available to civilians, after which she appeared to extinguish her butt...on the grille of her SUV! A few seconds later, however, she took another deep drag...while walking back to the pump!

What happened next is hazy, as I was momentarily distracted by a car hurtling through the parking lot at 40 miles per hour, clamoring for a space no one else wanted. As of press time, however, there were no reports of a huge fireball blowing out this girl's lack of brains.

Ah, Lafayette...where 7-11 isn't a convenience store, but an IQ bracket...

This is for the troll who isn't coming back

Periodically, as I'm sure is the case with most bloggers, I get a comment or two on very old posts. Actually, this seems to happen quite often with posts from 2004. And in most cases, I can see why: deaths in Iraq and war-related press criticism are evergreen topics for heated debate.

Today, however, I woke up to this interesting (and anonymous) comment on one of my oldest threads:

I find it interesting that there are comments you have chosen to remove. This site is useless if you censor out the opinions of visitors to your site. There is so much misinformation here, it makes me sick. Don't bother replying because I will not be back.

Let's dissect this comment in reverse:

"Don't bother replying because I will not be back."

How do I know that you won't be back? You're anonymous! Oh, and nice little irony there, telling me that I suppress debate and then calling for me not to write back. No one stirs the pot like this without coming back at least once to see what kind of steam rises. But even if this statement were true, what makes you think I'd care?

"There is so much misinformation here, it makes me sick."

So what exactly is misinformative about exposing an obviously wrong and outdated mail campaign (and, with it, the sheep attitude prevalent among the religious right)? You don't bother to tell me! Cetainly you could have chosen a better post on which to make that point. You have hundreds to choose from!

"This site is useless if you censor out the opinions of visitors to your site."

This is true, except for two things: 1) Aside from spam, I have censored only three comments ever; and those were from a troll who pasted the same Bush quote 50 times on three consecutive comments. And 2) there's also the tiny fact that the only comments removed from the thread in question were my own, which I revised for mistakes and immediately reposted thereafter! And the only reason you even noticed that was because the "delete forever" option wasn't available in 2004, the last time anyone (including myself) ever went to that post.

"I find it interesting that there are comments you have chosen to remove."

Well, not only is your comment here to stay, but I've actually chosen to highlight it on its own post! So as you can see, plenty of useless comments abound on this blog. Like yours, for one.

Thank you for stopping at Not Right. Pleasure giving the business to you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

HS state championship: a whiff of Sulphur

Tonight, the Wreckin' Rams of Acadiana High will take on the Golden Tornadoes of Sulphur, for the 5A state football championship. Geaux Acadiana!!

Words cannot adequately express how much I support you in the most important game in Louisiana high-school football. As a contender in south Louisiana's largest and toughest district (2-5A), you have cut your proverbial teeth on some of the best teams around. Your triumphs over much superior squads reflect the Lion's share of luck.

Since Acadiana High's inception in 1969, the Rams football team has endured only a handful of losing seasons. Four of the last six years have seen your program advance to the semifinals, and last year brought your first-ever trip to the finals. So when you strap on those pads this evening, take a moment to savor the huge expectations that are now thrust upon you. You will be venturing into new territory, and your exploits (be they good or bad) will be spoken of for years to come. You will not want to blow this extremely rare opportunity. If you do, you may never see it again!

For many of you, this game is merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Some will sign with a major university, while others will walk off the gridiron forever. You're young; you still have time to decide your future. Play badly, though, and that decision will pretty much be made for you.

Just know that when you take the field tonight, you will have the magic of the Superdome at your feet. It's a far cry from the rural, mosquito-infested backwater where you're used to playing; but if the the Dome doesn't instill in you a new appreciation for solid turf and indoor plumbing, then nothing will.

You will be sparked into action by a massive, Saints-size swarm of fans who will witness your every move. And your skill will no doubt guide you through the intense scrutiny that only tens of thousands of people you've never met can muster. And don't forget your fans back at home, who will catch the exciting game on local radio. Nor should you neglect the potential global audience who can catch the broadcast online. So remember: every time you take that three-point stance, everyone in the world is watching you. The last thing you want to do in that situation is choke! One wrong move, and your hopes for a championship are doomed like a chicken trapped in a hallway full of hungry AHS students.

Ultimately, what counts is that you go out there, have fun, play loose and leave it all on the field. Oh, and win the most coveted championship in Louisiana football. It's practically yours! If you lose grip of it, you'll only have yourselves to blame as you spend the next several decades in a downward personal spiral. A depression that not even rotgut, Billy Ray Cyrus or a lifetime supply of cowboy hats will soften. So if you know what's good for you, you won't lose, Billy Jo Bob Finkle!

So, yeah! Goooo Acadiana!! Break a leg!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This is why Clinton never inhaled

So the Saints' Hollis Thomas has been suspended for a month. Apparently he had steroid ingredients in his asthma inhaler. I feel bad for whoever had to break this news to him.

As with everything else, I have a couple of questions about this ruling:

1) If his doctor has certified that Hollis suffers from severe asthma--and the claim checks out--wouldn't it occur to the NFL that maybe he didn't take the steroid for performance purposes? I can't imagine the Anthony Anderson of the NFL needs to get any bigger. I'm not saying this to condone illicit drug use or ignorance of the rules; but can't they take these things on a case-by-case basis? This isn't Lyle Alzado we're talking about! Well, better safe than sorry, I suppose. But that leaves the other question:

2) According to reports, Hollis was tested in August. So why are these sanctions coming only now? And why do they last until exactly Jan. 1, 2007? I'm not trying to read between the lines where no lines exist; but it seems fishy that the league is levying this suspension on the eve of the playoff hunt. It's as if the NFL decided that the Saints were getting too uppity and enacted selective suspension. The timing is just too calculated.

I've seen this before. Around 1992, my future high-school football team went undefeated. But going into the final game, the state athletic association (LHSAA) negated the first nine wins because of a supposedly ineligible player. Ever since I first heard about this, I've been leery of late punishments. It seems to me that leagues should be aware of these indiscretions sooner, so that they don't derail the action on a technicality later in the season. Justified or not, these late rulings smack of vindictiveness. And that's not any more of a show of sportsmanship than the illegalities in the first place.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Two more rules, stat!

Rule #36: Shakespeare vs. Love

Celebrities should stop apologizing every time they suggest that America is not perfect. Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines this past weekend for telling a Portuguese newspaper that the British "don't talk about work and money, they talk about interesting things at dinner" and "are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans." And for that, she's being branded by some as unpatriotic. But if Gwyneth should apologize for anything, it's her desperate-sounding apology. The critics aren't buying it, and those of us who agree with her wish she'd retain her backbone.

Why is Gwyneth is getting bad press for suggesting that Americans talk a lot about work and money? We DO! In fact, it's probably the number-one topic of any American conversation, with American Idol running a close second. Getting slammed for saying this is like getting slammed for saying, "Americans like to drive SUVs." Well, duh! And aren't those drivers the ones who brag the most about it?

And come on, Mr. and Mrs. Patriot: don't you think it's a stretch to claim the United States is more civilized than Great Britain? Isn't it precisely the pro-America crowd who always makes "tea and crumpet" jokes about how timid and proper the English are, and how America is so much better at kicking ass? You can't go around bragging about how Americans are strong workers and don't have time for understanding the rest of the world, and then get pissed because someone said that we're too obsessed with work and aren't culturally civilized.

As Americans, we should be able to tolerate criticism about ourselves. And, let's face it: if we can't handle mild comments from a pond-hopping American actress, then maybe we aren't as superior as we claim to be.

Rule #37: Spike TD

The NFL should immediately rescind all rules and fines relating to touchdown celebrations.

Say what you will about Joe Horn and his infamous cell phone. Or Terrell Owens and his Sharpie. Or Terrell Owens and his dancing on the Cowboys' star after he scored against them. Or Terrell Owens, period. These antics are entertaining, and give the fans an opportunity to wonder what creative celebration will come next. Conversely, the other team will have an even greater impetus to play better and/or clock the guy next time. And that player's haters will have something to talk about for the next week on sports call-in shows. Everybody wins!

Is it a bad show of sportsmanship? Probably. But standing stone-cold after scoring is not its opposite. Not that sportsmanship is exactly the barometer of NFL behavior anyway. Hell, pro football could use a little more grudge, as long as it remains on the field. While you're on that field, have fun with the rivalry! Juke, dance with the star, call your mom after the touchdown. As long as you're showing no class, do it with fervor and abandon! Seems to work for the rest of the country.

Rules archive

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rumsfeld: 'Stay some other course'

Outgoing defense coordinator tells Bush to change his playbook

BBC--Former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld proposed major changes to the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq just two days before he resigned. He made the call in a classified memo to the White House, which has been obtained by the New York Times.

Mr Rumsfeld's memo says US strategy in Iraq "is not working well enough"....

"In my view it is time for a major adjustment," Mr Rumsfeld wrote in the memo dated 6 November. "Clearly, what US forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough."

Mulling over these suggestions shouldn't be too difficult for Bush, considering that few of them contain any combination of the words "cut" and "run." BBC quotes some of Rumsfeld's modest proposals:
  • Significantly increase the number of US trainers and transfer more equipment to Iraqi security forces
  • Reduce quickly the number of US bases, currently 55, to five by July 2007
  • Position substantial US forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and Iran's influence
  • Withdraw US forces from vulnerable positions, such as patrols, and use them as a quick reaction force to help Iraqi security forces when needed
Mr Rumsfeld also urges President Bush to copy the tactics of Iraq's deposed leader: "Provide money to key political leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period." (As long as we're fighting terror with terror, why not at least copy the one man who at least sort of united Iraq, right?)

Any new approach should be announced as being on a "trial basis", giving the administration the ability to change if necessary and therefore not "lose", the memo says.

Wow! A plan that would not only be more effective and garner public support, but would offer the flexibility needed to contain the conflict? There's no way Bush'll go for that! No wonder Rummy resigned...

Mr Rumsfeld also outlined a number of "Below the Line" or less attractive options, including continuing on the current path, moving large numbers of US forces into Baghdad and increasing US forces substantially. Other proposals include setting a firm withdrawal date and pushing an "aggressive" federalism plan to move towards three separate states - Sunni, Shia and Kurd.

"Below the Line" is an interesting label for what is essentially Bush's current "stay the course" mentality. I'm more partial to calling it, "Continuing the clusterfuck." But that's probably why I'm not Secretary of Defense. Either way, it's a damning indictment on Bush's policies by the man who made them reality. For his entire reign, Bush has counted on Rumsfeld as one of his few unwavering partners in crime (literally). So what has Dubya himself said of the memo?

US national security adviser Stephen Hadley told ABC TV that President George W Bush agreed with that assessment, describing the memo as a helpful "laundry list of ideas".

A laundry list of ideas?!! That's the kind of thing someone says when they think you're stupid but are too polite to tell you! Benjamin Franklin never said, "this Constitution is a helpful laundry list of ideas." Why not? Because he took it seriously! Instead he said, "This is a republic, if you can keep it." Now that's conviction!

Mr Bush has indicated he will look closely at but not necessarily follow the group's suggestions. "I want to hear all advice before I make any decision about adjustments to our strategy in Iraq," Mr Bush said in his radio address on Saturday.

In other words, Bush is waiting to hear what he wants to hear. One can only wonder where is going to get that these days, if not from Rumsfeld.

What Bush should really say is, "I've received Rumsfeld's memo and plan to scrutinize its proposals. We will then convene with the Pentagon and determine a course of action regarding the quagmire in Iraq." Except, of course, with words he can pronounce. Or, perhaps, "This is one memo I'm not going to completely ignore." Something remotely assuring!

Quibble all you want about Rumsfeld's concerns; but the bigger issue here is the principle. Ever the neocon chickenhawk, Rumsfeld's revisions take an almost moderate turn. Though the memo makes no reference to his impending resignation, its author must have seen it coming. This sudden speaking out certainly follows the trend of top Bush officials spilling it once the chokehold of power has loosened its grip--proof beyond proof that a close circle in the Bush White House wants their way at all costs. But when even Donald Rumsfeld calls for change in Iraq, no one can ignore that something is definitely wrong.

And, true to form, Bush isn't listening.

What on God's Greenhouse Earth will it take?

Bush beats Gore

Coming in, no one thought he could do it. Bush had been what they called an "outsider," having had only a few years of state-level experience. And, despite his name recognition, his numbers hadn't yet added up to the hype. Gore, on the other hand, had proven experience and seemed destined for a breakout. After a few hotly challenged calls, however, Bush emerged as the winner over Gore. And the only people left upset over the result are a bunch of San Francisco types, who will be staying home come January.

Who Dat!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Who still thinks the GOP is the frugal party? Anyone? Anyone?"

Inspired by Slave Wage Awareness Week here at Not Right, Phillip sends us the latest Ben Stein editorial via e-mail. Here's what the Artist Formerly Known as Phizz had to say about it:

Yo Ian: party at my casa Saturday. Your turn to bring the goat and the duct tape. Also bring Spicy Nacho Doritos.

Whoops, wrong e-mail! But he did highly recommend Ben Stein's stance on who's really to blame for the current record deficit. Want to guess at whom the avid Republican and former Nixon speechwriter points the finger? Exactly!

Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.

Something to think about the next time a dittohead tells you that the top 1 percent pays the top 182 percent of taxes, or whatever the official figure is this week. The only percentage that matters is the one they pay as individuals.

Here's a candy analogy: Suppose you have 100 Mike and Ikes, and I have 20. You pay 20 as a tribute to the Mob, while I pay 10. Why, you've given away twice as many Mike and Ikes as I have, you selfless philanthropist! You're also taking two-thirds of the burden of the payment we owe to the Mob. On the other hand, I'm paying 50 percent of my candy, while you've paid only 20 percent. That's barely a loss to you, whereas I'm starved for my real fruit flavors. And we still owe the Mob big anyway, because Mike and Ikes don't pay off gambling debts and flashy new war toys.

But wait a minute! Professor Stein, aren't you merely fomenting class warfare by blaming the current deficit on the rich?

Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.

“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

And who is this Mister Buffett? Jimmy? Nope; it's Warren E. Buffett, famous zillionaire and economic realist.

Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.

It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”

Simple--it's not! And, according to Stein (and most people who don't drink the punch), neither is the idea that lower taxes generate more government revenue. Indeed, Stein argues for higher taxes whenever appropriate. Gasp!!

The sad fact is that spending rises every year...spending has risen every year since 1940 except for a few years after World War II and a brief period after the Korean War.

The imperatives for spending are built into the system, and now, with entitlements expanding rapidly, increased spending is locked in. Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt — all are growing like mad, and how they will ever be stopped or slowed is beyond imagining...

People ask how I can be a conservative and still want higher taxes. It makes my head spin, and I guess it shows how old I am. But I thought that conservatives were supposed to like balanced budgets. I thought it was the conservative position to not leave heavy indebtedness to our grandchildren. I thought it was the conservative view that there should be some balance between income and outflow. When did this change?

Oh, now, now, now I recall. It changed when we figured that we could cut taxes and generate so much revenue that we would balance the budget. But isn’t that what doctors call magical thinking? Haven’t the facts proved that this theory, though charming and beguiling, was wrong? [...]

If, in fact, it’s all just a giveaway to the rich masquerading as a new way of stimulating the economy and balancing the budget, please, Mr. Bush, let’s rethink it. I don’t like paying $7 billion a week in interest on the debt. I don’t like the idea that Mr. Buffett pays a lot less in tax as a percentage of his income than my housekeeper does or than I do.

Ben Stein knows a thing or two about money, having had enough to give it away every week on his eponymous game show. His government-spending ideal is classic paleocon: small government doing smart spending with big funds. As Stein said, he is indeed old; old enough to recall a time when taxes were fair and deficits did matter. The GOP would be wise to heed the words of one of its most ubiquitous voices.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Get meth. It pays!

Today's Times of Acadiana has an article on Meth Awareness Day, which I'm now aware is tomorrow. Check out the following excerpts. They're free, dude!

Thursday is Meth Awareness Day. The drug, previously associated primarily with rural low-income Caucasian usage, is quickly spreading...

Washington's office is specifically targeting educating women, students and those in industries where people have to stay up for longer periods of time...

George Crowder, who works narcotics with the Lafayette Sheriff's Department, says meth is not as common in Acadiana as it is in northern Louisiana and parts of the Midwest -- and he's not sure why.

"We don't see meth as often as we see marijuana," Crowder says. "You can theorize all you want, but nobody knows for sure why they don't cook as much down here as they do up there. We've only had three meth labs so far this year." [...]

"Now, Mexico has picked up that slack with their super labs. They make really good meth there,' Babineaux says...

"That's what got me working in narcotics," Crowder says.

Listening to Crowder explain the basics of how meth works gets your attention...

Stuart Gauthier, with Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, says anhydrous ammonia isn't used around Acadiana very much.

"Around here, I don't see where that fertilizer is used much anymore," he says. "When I was a kid, a lot of farmers had tanks. It's kind of dangerous. In north Louisiana it's still used a lot in cotton."

Today's lesson, kiddies? Whether it's drugs or unintentionally ambiguous words, tweaking is bad!

Monday, November 27, 2006

The back cover of Highlights Magazine was never this obvious

Can you spot the two forehead-slapping mistakes made by the Daily Advertiser in Sunday's sports section? If you need help, scroll below for a couple of hints:

1) I'm surprised the paper didn't refer to the Saints' head coach as Jym Mora Jr.

2) Did New Orleans pick up a certain superstar while I wasn't looking?

Hope those help. Good luck.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Smug as a thug in a stolen Bug

On Saturday, I posted a comment I made on the Daily Advertiser forum about the minimum wage. Since then, I've been involved in a back-and-forth...well, let me rephrase that...gang bang with irate locals on the issue. Here are some highlights:

Ya'll need to get a grip here. The MINIMUM WAGE is not a living wage. Quit confusing the two, they are NOT the same. Do you honestly want somebody like your teenager with absolutely no job skills out there making a mandatory $10 an hour?

My wife took an entry level position and her first year I think she made $2.65 an hour, last year she made $80,000 and that is with no degree. Nothing but hard work and being a responsible, dependable person who worked her way up the ladder.

Minimum wage is for minimum work. Minimum wage is for kids starting out their working career. How easy is it to quickly get above minimum? If someone wants to make over minimum wage then need to: get to work on time, do what is asked consistently, treat people with respect while representing their employer, give a damn about what they are doing. This isn't rocket science.

In an open job market, people are paid exactly what they are worth. Sometimes minimum wage is too much. If you don't feel you are being paid what you are worth, shop yourself around. [...] Education is one answer. Hard work and dedication are other means to better pay. They are all equal in my book. I have had college grads who I wouldn't employ if they paid me. I have G.E.D. recipients who make six figures. The work force in another example of supply and demand. Legislation will not change that.

Ian McG doesn't get it. Like I said, go back and take an economics class, you sorely need one. [...] I don't pay anyone $20 to cut my grass when they come knocking either. Why? cause it takes 30 min. to cut my entire yard. That comes to $40 an hour for a kid to cut grass.

Minimum wage is an emotional issue used by politicians. The amusing thing is the outcome results not in a higher standard of living but in a lower one.

I am NOT a minimum wage person, so I do NOT work for minimum wage. It is THAT simple. This is my CHOICE....say that with me slowly for the people in the back......CHOICE. Who is forcing these people to make 5,6, or 7 bucks an hour? Not me, are YOU. Democraps want to keep the bottom feeders dependant on them, so that they may continue to get their votes. If you want more, GO AND GET IT!!!!!

I am going to type this out in caps really s-l-o-w for all those that don't get it:


If you can't support your family on minimum wage you have a few choices. Don't have kids and get your spouse to work. Change your lifestyle. Change your job/education status/career. Take responsibility for you life. In spite of what some tell you, it is not some politician's job to coddle you through life. Stop being a victim of politicians that tell you should get more for doing nothing in addition.


Society does not value all professions the same. It is obscene that actors make millions and teachers/police/firemen make 20-30K. It is obscene that bartenders and service industry people make more than people with Master's degrees. Is counting, logging, and handing people their clothes at the dry cleaners really worth more than minimum wage? NO!


You can command what you are worth. If you don't work regularly, if you consistently show up for work late, bitch, moan and complain and if you aren't a good worker, maybe $5.00 is too much money.

Quick question for you posters in favor of a higher minimum wage. Does your manager insist you ask if I want fries or a hot apple pie with that, or are you just trying to show some initiative?

My grandmother always reminded me of a scripture in the Bible that says " Do all for the glory of God"....I didn't get it when i was young, but as I grew older and wiser, I leasrned that this means that I should do the best that I can do at everything that I do in order to please God. If that means I clean the toilet with a toothbrush for $2 then I do it with the passion I have for God. I had Minimum wage jobs, then I went to college, got an education and left minimum wage behind.

I'm glad at least one person had my back. Thanks, "Amber."

I don't understand the reasoning that says certain jobs are not worth a liveable wage, no matter what education is required for them.

First off, there are not enough teenagers to take all the minimum wage jobs the market has available, so adults will be working them. They can't be viewed as just something for people who do not need a liveable income, because that's simply not what has happened in our society. Take a look around you next time you venture out into the world.

And then getting paid what you are worth is not as easy as "shopping yourself around" when you are a minimum wage worker, because there isn't much to shop around. Even if you show up to work on time every day and work as hard as you can for a period of time, the average minimum wage job is not teaching any skills or imparting any education that will help the employee seek any kind of job...except another low-wage job.

If we're going to ask people to do these jobs, then we need to pay them money that they can live off of while working full-time or close to it, instead of demeaning their hard work as "minimum work" (whatever *that's* supposed to mean...)

Finally, here's my reply to all of them:

The common thread I see in these responses is value judgments. And that's, frankly, a very pathetic way to determine what the minimum wage should be. The minimum wage should be the line of the cost of living, period. Otherwise, we're simply fostering a culture of governmental dependence and the decline of the work ethic. Put another way: if everyone made wages in line with the cost of living, then poverty would decline sharply and welfare would all but disappear. But we as a nation have yet to make work worthwhile for all people.

Not everyone who works minimum-wage jobs--or the equally unlivable $7.25 an hour, for that matter--is there because they want or choose to be. When times are rough, people sometimes have to take whatever they can get. Much of the time, merit doesn't even factor into it. I'm sure everyone here knows somebody who works a job beneath their capabilities, or has done so themselves at some point. Sometimes they do so because of family concerns, because they work another career where opportunities are inconsistent or any other myriad reasons. No one should ever be faulted for having to do that. Hey, it beats welfare, right?

I can only hope that none of you on this thread ever find yourselves in a situation where you are forced to make it on minimum wage, like millions of your fellow citizens.

And, for the record, I've taken an economics class. And hundreds of other college courses, as well, earning two degrees in the process. What I've learned is that success is not automatic. Nothing in our economy is automatic. So why do we continue to pretend that it is?

That may be all I have to say on that (or any other) topic on that forum; seeing the true colors of my anonymous neighbors hurts my head.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Minimum Rage, Maximum Ignorance

A few days ago, I did something very questionable--I joined the StoryChat forum of the Daily Advertiser. It's become very popular among local readers, and proves to outsiders exactly what I deal with, politically speaking, on a regular basis. So far, so fun!

Today's edition ran a reader's rebuttal of a previous letter that called for the end of the minimum wage. Here's my response to several comments. I doubt it needs much context.

So what are your arguments AGAINST minimum wage? All I've heard so far is a bunch of slippery-slope arguments ("Why don't we just raise the minimum wage to $100,000?") and idiotic cracks ("Her thoughts are on loan from Ted Kennedy.") None of these speak well of the anti-minimum wage stance.

The minimum wage exists in the first place because industry couldn't be counted on to pay low-level workers livable wages. Indeed, at every level, captains of industry have been so benevolent toward their lifeblood (meaning, workers) that the government has had to step in regarding employment benefits, Social Security, what constitutes overtime labor, workplace conditions, classification of employees, labor-management relations and child labor laws. These examples of so-called "big government" are why we have such dastardly concepts as "holidays" and "the weekend." I would presume that those who oppose the minimum wage and advocate totally unfettered commerce would not actually want to work in a factory in 1906 America.

I understand that pay should be based on merit; in fact, that's one of my deepest-held beliefs. But that's nowhere close to our current reality. Sometimes external factors play a role in what person works which job; Lafayette's economy, as my (conservative) friend put it, cannot absorb all of the college graduates it generates. Consequently, you're just as likely to find a college grad working a fast-food job as you are at the executive branch of an oil company.

Ideally, if an employee is worth more, than they will eventually earn more. But everyone, even if they are not cut out for their current job, deserves to be paid wages that will keep them out of poverty. When they are off poverty, they're also off that welfare you hate so much. The minimum wage hasn't been raised since 1997, and only then it was a tiny bump. It's time that everyone who works can keep up with the cost of living.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tips for surviving Black Friday

--Don't be a retail worker, delivery driver or police officer.

--You'll want to beat long lines, so be prepared to leave home early. A good time to do so is four hours before the store opens yesterday.

--Shopping among large crowds increases your chances of being robbed or pickpocketed. Prevent this ahead of time by bringing no money with you.

--Before falling off your roof, make sure there isn't a mall between you and the hospital.

--Note to budding guerrilla protesters: gluing department-store locks shut is so 2005. But spreading glue on the sidewalks? That's money, dawg!

--In the mad rush to catch this season's biggest bargains, some businesses get overlooked. Today's a good day to visit such venues as baseball stadiums and waterparks.

--Buy Furbies. Less competition.

--Electronics buffs will create severe gridlock at Best Buy franchises all over America. Mediocre Buy, however, is usually not as crowded.

--If you're planning to liven up your Black Friday experience by shooting BBs at unsuspecting shoppers, doing so in front of a gun store is a bad idea. Also, Alabama.

--Finding the perfect holiday gift for that special someone can be a challenge. Hint: kill two birds with one stone by becoming a friendless athiest.

--Don't write checks. If there's one thing that holiday shoppers won't stand for, it's having to wait in line.

--Be Sony.

--Shopping at dollar stores and discount outlets ensures your safety by implying to would-be muggers that you have nothing worth stealing.

--Now would be a good time to renounce all consumer tendencies and become a patchouli-soaked hippie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

In defense of O.J. Simpson...

What's the only thing worse than witnessing the spectacle of O.J. Simpson musing on the entirely hypothetical situation, If I Did It? NOT being allowed to witness it.

Now, hear me out.

MSNBC reports that the Fox network has pulled the plug on O.J. Simpson's upcoming television interview, in which he related how he would have conducted the Nicole Simpson-Ron Goldman know, if he wasn't 100 Percent Not Guilty. Additionally, Fox sibling HarperCollins has stopped the presses on Simpson's mem-noir If I Did It, thus sparing booksellers nationwide a serious classification dilemma.

Rupert Murdoch, the mastermind behind both decisions, had this to say regarding the dual discarding: "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project...We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."

As we all know, Murdoch has never been one to deal in innuendo, fabricated stories or bad taste. We should all salute his efforts for knowing where to draw the line.

As far as projects go, this one was sick from the outset. O.J. Simpson did himself no favor by embarking on this endeavor, which will probably serve to alienate his few remaining defenders. Indeed, the only two questions he seems to be answering are: "Do you have something to get off your chest?" and, "Can you take on something that makes Juiced look like Naked Gun?" I, for one, had no plans to purchase (or even read) this book, nor was I canceling my late-November revelry at any point in order to catch his TV appearances.

That said, however, I still bristle at the idea that HarperCollins is going to recall and destroy existing volumes of If I Did It. As a fervent free-speech advocate, I strongly oppose ANY measure that keeps protected expression out of the public's hands. Free speech is a double-edged sword: while it allows for the uninhibited flow of ideas, it also permits the expression of sentiments that most of us could live without. As much as O.J.'s latest publicity jag disgusts the level-headed world, the former star has as much a right to speak as anyone else. He would likely have it even if he were incarcerated; after all, inmates give interviews too.

Don't think for a second that Murdoch's decision has anything to do with integrity or other lofty ideals; had that ever been a factor, he never would have commissioned the book and the interview in the first place. Instead, Murdoch saw the coming backlash and decided it might hurt his bottom line (not to mention his clout as a media titan). These are exactly the things that should never factor into whether or not the public can access something.

Judith Regan, head of the ReganBooks imprint that was to publish If I Did It, offered a reason for the book that would seem to contradict Murdoch's supposedly good intentions. An abuse victim herself, Regan said that O.J.'s book served as an indictment on those who practice spousal abuse. Whether or not this argument holds water may never be known, because free speech has once again taken a backseat to the pressures of capitalism and so-called "decency."

To paraphrase a favorite mantra of Murdoch's voracious consumers, "Let the free marketplace of ideas decide!"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Monday Morning Musing

You know something? Drew Brees and I are a lot alike. And not because we're both major superstars with loads of money and stellar reputations within the community. Though that's part of it.

Brees, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, has overcome adversity and a new start, and throws for 510 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite this immense statistic, the Saints still lost huge, due partially to several interceptions. Like with Reggie Bush and Terrance Copper the week before, the biggest playmakers of the game are often the ones whose strengths wind up backfiring. That's gotta hurt.

I feel this way a lot. Life often reminds me of the movie Phenomenon, in which John Travolta's higher intelligence turns out to be caused by a cancer that created a unique circuit in his brain. Ultimately, it kills him. And while my own parallel is more metaphorical than literal (hopefully), sometimes I feel like my personal strengths will bring me down as well. Every day I ask myself these questions:

--What would make me happy?
--Would I be able to handle happiness?
--Why am I often afraid to take up opportunities?
--Am I wrong for wanting admittedly lofty things out of life?
--Am I my own worst critic?
--Why I am I so picky about everything?

One of my most-praised qualities is, and has always been, my intelligence. Much like Brees' arm, which can fire both 72-yard touchdown passes and heartbreaking red-zone interceptions, my strengths can be both a blessing and a curse. Writing has opened doors for me I didn't even know existed; at the same time, it has welded others shut. My sense of determination has wowed some and has appalled others. I know I'm hardly alone regarding this. The best most of us can hope for in life is that the good times outweigh the bad.

I don't doubt I'd be happier at the moment if I hadn't seen so much in life or if I found contentment in "normal" pursuits. But I guess I should be happy that I'm not happy. Brees and I both look good on paper; but ultimately, paper crumbles. Winning on the field is what really matters to both of us. No other result can satisfy us quite like that.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Time for more rules

Rule #33: YouTube, YouBoob

Enough with the copyright crackdown on YouTube! It's futile and will serve only to dilute the site's already-small fraction of watchable videos.

Okay, I understand if the material in question is a brand-new music video or an unreleased track. Fine. Take those off. If Comedy Central is offended by YouTube's diversion of traffic from its higher-quality Motherload feed, then so be it.

But is Warner Brothers really accomplishing anything by removing decades-old music videos that haven't been available to the public since the debut of MTV's Remote Control? Where the hell else am I going to find the video for Morris Day and the Time's 1985 hit "The Bird?" And aren't music videos advertisements to begin with? I think the cash cow went to pasture on that one years ago, guys. Give it up, as KC and the Sunshine Band once sang.

Anyway, what defines "copyrighted material"? Any original body of work created in the United States has a copyright, technically speaking. I own the copyright on everything I've written or designed on this blog. Registered copyrights hold up better in court, but those are generally reserved for those who concern themselves with making profit. Which is, more than anything, what this is all about. I guess I'll just have buy all those old videos. Now, what store sells them again?

Rule #34: Headline Heaven

When the top news story is "Bush goes to Vietnam," every publication is allowed to cover it like The Onion. In fact, there's no excuse not to. Example headlines might include the following: "Finally," "It's about time," "Bush visits Vietnam, literally this time" and "Too little, too late." Editorials shall state, "What about all the times Bush DIDN'T go to Vietnam?" and "These days, even National Guard soldiers have to go to foreign countries." There must also be questions regarding potent Nam weed and hookers, Bush's low sense of morale, and his coming need to be lifted by helicopter out of the American embassy. And, most importantly, Walter Cronkite must comment on the inevitable stalemate ahead. And how Bush wishes it were 1975 all over again.

Really...what other kind of coverage this this absurd event deserve?

Rule #35: Tickle Me PS3

You know how silly it seems now that people once lined up for days for a Cabbage Patch Kid or a new Atari game? That's you, Mr. "I Cut Class for Two Days to Stand in Line to Pay Double Markup So I Could Be the First in My Apartment Complex to Own a PlayStation 3." Hey, at least you got your name and picture in the paper, so everyone knows all about your bizarre exploits!

The rush to get the new PS3, or any fresh toy, is ultimately more about hype and competition than about actually wanting the product. Anyone truly interested in testing out the product would be satisfied by the free display offered by most major outlets; short of that, why not play with a friend who bought one? Assuming they remembered to buy a second controller. And a game, for that matter.

Truly worthwhile products stand the test of time, as PlayStation has in all its incarnations. Even Cabbage Patch Kids and Elmo-related toys remain wildly popular. If you want to fight for tickets and stand in long lines, go to the Superdome 30 minutes before a Saints game. At least then you'll be rewarded with a unique experience. And the game console will still be there when you get home.

Rules Archive

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A matter of carbon sense

Yesterday marked the annual Great American Smokeout, so I suppose today's post would have made more sense then. But because I like to be fashionably late with my punditry, here's something to put in your pipe and smoke. Yeah, I know--how original, right?

Somehow, Louisiana has passed a law that will ban smoking in virtually all public places, effective Jan. 1, 2007. The ban extends to correctional facilities as of mid-2009, which gives inmates roughly three years to think up a replacement prison currency. Note to self: do not get arrested after 2009!

But I digress.

I'm a nonsmoker. I chose this path for my health, though it's probably been permanently negated by decades of close exposure to secondhand smoke (which is--knock on wood--permanently out of my life since my parents and brother all quit smoking). Health concerns aside, it's nice to wear a clean cotton shirt that actually smells like clean cotton. And I highly prize my ability to stay in one place for more than 20 minutes, even if I want to leave for other reasons. And it keeps more money in my pocket. Theoretically speaking.

As you might imagine, I could not be more ecstatic about the coming crackdown on indoor public smoking. But lest anyone accuses me of being one of those smoking Nazis who supports bans even in private places, I believe that the limits should extend only to those who pose problems for defenseless parties. If I choose to hang out at Phillip's, for example, I expect the place to resemble a pan of Jiffy Pop that's been on the burner for too long. If I have a problem, I might go outside (or inside if too many smokers are congregated outside); but as long as a smoker is respectful and is somewhere with adequate ventilation, I don't raise a hissy fit. Most smokers I know are polite and understanding about their habits in my presence.

I do, however, get tired of hearing about someone's "right to smoke." The right stands insofar as it affects you; but when it invades my territory, your right becomes an infringement. How hard is that to understand? It's also not illegal for someone to pour beer into another's spaghetti, but it can completely ruin the diner's experience. Furthermore, it can cause severe health problems if George W. Bush or Gary Busey happens to be eating that spaghetti.

Okay, maybe that wasn't the best substance-abuse parallel. But as far as parallels go, smoking doesn't really have one. No one ever talks about secondhand Ecstasy or secondhand drunkenness. And with good reason; smoke is a unique animal in that it affects its environment as well as its direct user. Much like cars and biological weapons. Except that nobody talks about allowing either of those indoors; they might cause cancer or even death!

As much as some smokers and the tobacco industry insist that secondhand smoke is harmless, the fact remains: the same smoke that you inhale also comes out of the other end of the cigarette. The SAME smoke! And while it may not be as concentrated as what smokers are accustomed to, 100 smokers in a bar can cause quite a tobacco cloud over the course of an evening. And a burning blend of toxic carcinogens known to cause lung cancer and birth defects can't be good for anybody. Anyone who believes otherwise is either an addict, delusional or both. Most smokers themselves can't even stand stagnant smoke, so clearly it isn't the non-issue some try to make it out to be.

Because smoking is such a scourge, I applaud Louisiana (for once) for enforcing this ban. While most of our state might find it inconvenient or even incomprehensible, I trust they'll eventually warm up to it--just like citizens in other states where such bans have long existed. Seventeen years ago, when UL (then USL) banned smoking in its hallways, students went ballistic. Nowadays, most smokers don't even light up in their living rooms. Banning it in enclosed public places is a natural extension of changing societal attitudes.

We've come a long way, baby.