Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Taking me to school

I miss the first day of school. Not going to school, so much, but having something to look forward to like that.

Starting a new year tanned, rested and ready, with new clothes and fresh supplies — not to mention the chance to meet potentially hundreds of new people with whom you automatically share at least something in common — well, I always dug that. Oh, and learning new stuff, starting a new football season, showing people how much you've grown and matured over the summer. Yeah! Even in years I hated school, that was still among my favorite times of year. Summer vacation's pretty awesome too.

Nothing even remotely compares to that anymore. I guess that's just how life is. You have to look forward because you can't go back.

Still, I wish adult life was more like school. The supportive environment. The regular milestones and benchmarks. The personal growth. Some people can't wait to break out of that. I discovered once I was out how much that had kept me going.

No wonder I wanted to be a pro athlete when I was younger. There was something alluring about having a career that could be summed up in statistics on a card. If nothing else, it reminded people that you were there.

And I'm still here. Ready for another semester in life. Bring it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Ron Paul Lovelution

A lot of people say that Ron Paul takes a lot of inexcusable stands, sure, but his stance on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars cannot be overlooked.

That's like having a boyfriend who beats the crap out of you, but recycles.

You're better off finding someone who recycles AND won't slap you. Especially since people like that are all over the place.

And yes, I know he's a doctor. So is Laura. Case closed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is it bad to think this on Sunday?

Seemingly everywhere you turn, there's some study that younger people are turning to religious apathy and atheism. Many people lament that, but I see this as an awesome development. Allow me to ironically preach a little bit. 

Because most Americans are religious to some degree, the prevalent belief is that religion is a necessary source for morals, ethics and other behavioral standards. Coming from that stance, it’s not hard to see why an increasingly secular public is a cause for concern; without the thin blue line of spiritual consequence, what would keep us from just all killing each other and doing whatever we wanted? God forbid! 

Well, I’m one of those scary people. Maybe I can explain. 

I’ve always been very open about my lack of religion. I do not attend church and don’t pretend to harbor any certainty about the nature of the spiritual (which includes the notion that there is no God — I don’t know that either, so I don’t consider myself an atheist). And yet, I could not be remotely considered, by any metric, a wicked person. I live a very clean life, comparable to those prescribed by some very straight-and-narrow denominations. I abhor prejudice, war and killing. I try to be humble, or at least not appear on the lower rungs of reality TV. 

I’ve been asked lots of times how I can have any morals if I don’t subscribe to religion. But that’s easy: of course I have morals. Very strong ones, in fact. And I have them not through fear of eternal damnation, but through an innate idea of right and wrong as it pertains to myself and others. And I’d argue that such a foundation is far stronger than one built upon faith. 

Here’s the thing about religion: if it were somehow proven false, or if someone’s faith is otherwise shaken, then everything predicated upon it falls as well. I’ve had many friends who experienced a crisis of faith and went through a hard-partying and/or depressed phase as a result. I’ve had my low moments/eras, but I’ve mostly stayed on an even keel; I haven’t had any born-again moment, but neither have I had the hard slide. I credit that to a solid foundation I’ve built on the love of others and the values I keep, which came from life, not religion. 

Few religions have much empirical basis, and some have facets that can be dismissed right off the bat. But no one will ever discover that the key to a harmonious society is to lie, cheat, steal and kill. 

I see religion like I see newspapers: once upon a time, it was the only game in town. But now it isn’t, because people have other, more diverse avenues. And though that’s hurt the bottom lines of both, in many ways it serves to strengthen the bonds for those who still adhere. In other words, it means something to those who subscribe, rather than just be a catch-all for those who had no other choice. We should see it that way instead of assuming the monopolies of the past are the norm. With a smaller world and acceptance of diversity, this was necessary. And inevitable. Just as we need to harness that new normal for continued print media success, so must we learn to live with each others’ varying (or non-) beliefs. It’s the only way either can survive. 

So far from being concerned about the swing away from religion, I welcome it. Atheism/agnosticism is in fact very good for fostering tolerance and peace. Most race- and culture-based prejudice and supremacy is based on the notion that a group is blessed above all others. Atheists don’t subscribe to such otherworldly endorsements. Furthermore, the idea that there’s no afterlife instills within nonbelievers a healthy respect for the life we know we have. No skeptic is about to strap on some explosives because they think it will bring them to some theoretical plane of paradise. 

I’m very interested to see where we are as a nation, and world, in the next few decades. I like to think that, despite the hard-liners who always exist, we’ll be in a better spot. Crazy? Maybe. But if generational shifts away from acceptable discrimination and the rise of the Internet around the world continue, I’m hopeful. Because if I have faith in one thing, it’s humanity.

Chiding the storm out

So Glenn Beck said Hurricane Irene is a blessing.

Stop. Just stop.

I’m tired of hearing from religious bigots how natural disasters are wonderful developments. Or a referendum on our behavior. Or a justification for all the paranoia a certain nutcase pundit has foisted upon his audience.

As far as apocalyptic scenarios goes, hurricanes tend not to register that high. Even Katrina got an assist from poor levees and an apathetic, hyper-partisan government — two accomplices, I might add, fostered by the strain of politics Beck advocates.

Whenever stupid comments like Beck’s bounce about, I like to put myself in the shoes of someone who really believes them. It’s not so much the idea of a blessing in disguise (which I’d define as something bad leading to something good; for example, someone getting rejected for a job and finding a better job as a result), but that everything happens for a reason if we just try to see it God’s way.

Such thinking gets vicious pretty quickly. Every disaster becomes a referendum on abortion, gay marriage, sex or any other game-ending factor that subtracts from our Christian high score. (Apparently, God approves of our aggressive foreign policy and regressive tax code, because no disasters ever get blamed on that.) After trying to understand that line of thinking, I always need some Advil, which I usually borrow from a Beck acolyte’s stockpile.

At least Beck takes a different tack on this “blessing” than most, one that combines his religion with his bottom line. As a Mormon, he professes to follow the values of the religion, among which is the idea that you should “prepare every needful thing.” That’s not bad advice. But it meshes perhaps a little too well with Beck’s “Stock up on Bibles, bullets, beans and bullion in case Obama gets re-elected because ZOMG ACORN TIDES FOUNDATION APOCALYPSE!” philosophy. All the world’s an ad buy, and the target audience can’t get enough. I guess if you sink all of your money into food stockpiles and gold, you want to feel like it was justified.

So Beck deserves credit for using Hurricane Irene merely to promote his agenda and business interests, as opposed to actively cheering the hurricane to kill the unrighteous a la Pat Robertson. That’s a low, low bar — pretty much on the ground — but he clears it. Congrats, I suppose. Glad a potentially devastating storm smashing into a wide swath of the U.S. not often hit by hurricanes makes you feel better about yourself, Glenn. I trust you’ll be sinking some of your gold into relief efforts. Or would that defeat God’s warning to end wickedry and welfare?

I wish we knew for sure so that there wouldn’t be any more hurricanes ever again. Deliver us, Glenn.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Still somehow cuddly


I know. I'm surprised too.


New rules for the NFL in 2011

• Only surly, efficient teams can win 

• A 15-yard penalty will be assessed for excessive dreadlocks 

• Definition of showboating expanded to include “wearing numbers” and “making memorable plays” 

• Tattoo-to-tattoo contact prohibited 

• All players now considered owners, both to prevent player unionization and to “give them a skin in the game” 

• In keeping with Patriots protocol, Chad Ochocinco must keep a low profile like Tom Brady 

• In the event that Hurricane Irene devastates an NFL market, fans will not be allowed to crack jokes about it on signs. Because that would be uncalled for this time.

• Coaches can not challenge a play up to three times per game 

• Kickoffs now take place at the 35 yard line, kickers must boot the ball while running backward and the kicking team will be penalized 5 yards for every inch that the tee travels during the play 

• Numerous safety features and regulations have been added in an attempt to minimize the risk of damage to players, such as pushing for an 18-game season and trying to not pay players what they’re worth 

• Some players with a history of concussions are trying out a prototype helmet design based on motorcycle helmets that is not only lighter, but better at collision diffusion, that arrived 14 years too late to be of any use to me 

• Game-day drug testing will now be implemented. To ensure integrity, all players will piss on the 50-yard line during pregame. 

• Three words: Zombie Brett Favre

For "real"

I don’t want “real” people in office. There, I said it. 

What is so great about being “real”? It’s a meaningless designation. After all, people who marvel at Sarah Palin’s realness can’t argue that Barack Obama is a robot made in Indonesia (maybe that’s a bad example). Literally, everyone in public office is a real person. 

“Oh, Ian,” you say, “You take everything so literally. ‘Real’ means that the person understands the needs and troubles of regular Americans!” Yeah, I know. But you’d be hard-pressed to guess that based on who gets held up as real. More likely than not, “real” people are defined as incurious, ultraconservative fanatics, who are “above” all this highfalutin’ “elitism” and intend to apply “common sense values” to “return this country” to something or other.

I’ve been told to my face that I’m not a “real” American. I guess being born here, living here my whole life, paying taxes and exercising my freedoms of speech and press aren’t enough to be “real” if my education and distrust of willful ignorance cancels that out. Like many people with higher educations, I’ve been told by self-proclaimed “real” people that I’ve been tainted with liberal ideas that will forever keep me out of touch with what this country really needs. (I’d ask the actual elite what they think, but they won’t return my calls.) 

George W. Bush was the absolute pinnacle of this “real person” lunacy. Despite being the Yale-educated, multimillionaire, dry-drunk son of a former president, Bush was the aw-shucks Washington outsider with whom voters wanted to have a beer. Palin also struck the fancy of many as someone who’d have you over for moose chili as long as you call before you head out. It’s absurd on its face and also a stupid reason to vote for someone. 

Personally, I want the best person in office for the job. It’s funny how, these days, we insist that our politicians have no qualifications for what they’re doing. We expect our doctors, astronauts, military and law enforcement to be the best and brightest in their respective fields, and no one boots them out after four years because they become too entrenched or influential. And we certainly don’t pine for cops or generals who insist the police force or the military is the problem. But we’re supposed to abhor any “career politician” and replace them with someone “real,” because it’s an improvement to elect someone who, to paraphrase Matt Taibbi, reminds us of the selfish jerk we see in the mirror each morning. 

"Real" people, it seems, aren’t subject to the same temptations of power, influence and money that have allegedly sucked the humanity out of our current officeholders. The truth is, people are people. Some are humble, some are greedy and many are in between. It might seem like your Ted Kennedy types are too much a part of the system, but what happens when T. Party Q. Real gets his first taste of influence? That’s when I’d hope that person has some leadership ability. But based on their stated contempt for the system and so-called elitism, I wonder. 

It’s one thing to want new, fresh blood; it’s another entirely to demand that the person not only be an outsider, but to be on par with the lowest common denominator. Call me elitist, but I definitely don’t subscribe to the notion that literally anybody could run the government better. If my local gadfly runs for office, that’s cool, but they’d better have some sort of inherent leadership qualities. Has it become elitist to want smart, team-playing leaders, regardless of political stripe? I hope not, because not only am I not “real,” I’m also a lousy elitist.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Things I've garnered from this cartoon


• Assuming that its creator equates socialism with liberalism and Democrats, which seems likely, that’s an incredibly redundant title. 

• Only far-left radicals eat vegetables. 

• Liberals have been spineless since World War II, which I guess means they had spines back during the New Deal that I’ve heard was so horrible for the nation. 

• Liberals acknowledge America’s past mistakes, and that’s funny. 

• There are apparently hearts and appendices in the brain.

• Liberals apparently worship the writings and principles of a long-dead, godless Soviet, something no conservative or libertarian would ever do. 

• Democrats want free everything! 

• And aren’t averse to raising taxes to pay for all those free things. 

• All these hippie and Soviet Union references prove that this cartoon has physically held up well in all the years since its creation. 

• Liberals all think alike, take orders from centralized authority and want the country to be remade entirely in their image. And that’s bad when they do it. 

• Liberals insist that all Americans have hyphenated labels, when any real American knows that we’re all Americans (except for liberals, of course). 

• Wanting to embrace different ethnicities and cultures, and exercising sensitive communication toward them, is not just ridiculous, but worthy of centerpiece placement in the cartoon. 

• To even consider raising taxes, especially in a time of historically and perilously regressive taxation, is an abomination upon the National Lord. 

• Mainstream national networks are liberal propaganda hurr hurr derp derp. 

• “Moral relativity gray area” is actually pretty clever. Textbook projection, but clever. 

• That “global warming panic center” actually seems pretty small. But still larger than conservatives’ brains would ever allow for the most important issue of our age. 

• Nanny state apparently refers to helping the poor, and safety and environmental standards, and not drastically undertaxing corporations and the rich. 

• Another guilt gland? That’s a lot of guilt for supposedly godless people! And I’m guessing all that guilt over history, the poor and cultural affairs squeezes out acceptable guilt over class warfare, protesting and demanding the rich pay their fair share. 

• Being a victim is strictly a liberal vice. No conservative would ever complain about being persecuted or discriminated against. 

• The “Smarter Than Thou” tumor makes the brain a normal size, which is perhaps a sophisticated jab at how liberals have undersized brains. Or maybe it’s just stupid. 

• You need an electron microscope to view the common sense particle. I’m sure you can find one of these instruments at your local public school or university. Or not. 

• Liberals have no sense of personal responsibility. They want government to be accountable to the citizenry and don’t think people should be left twisting in the wind as a result of austerity and corporate greed. Softies! 

• If liberals had any work ethic, they’d be rich. Because every rich person in America is a hard worker, and every hard worker is rich. It’s amazing our nation’s hamburgers even get made. 

• Liberals might appear to have the better sense of humor, but who has “Mallard Fillmore” and a slew of quickly canceled, blatant ripoffs of successful liberal comedy shows? Advantage: Right! 

Carry on, Scarecrow!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More awful supergroups

Tool and the Gang

Earth, Wind & Arcade Fire

Talking Radioheads

Fiona Apple and the Commodores

UB Sum 41

Montell Jordin Sparks

Marilyn Hanson

Rebecca Black Sabbath

Twisted Genesister

Lil Wayne Newton

ELOLMFAO

Adele Amitri

Panic at the Culture Club

Flo Rida (featuring Kansas)

The Mighty Mighty Boston

J. Cee-Lo

Butthole Nerf Herders

Fred Savage Garden*

The Rental Cars

Hank “Robbie” Williams

Go-Go Dolls

Brooks & KRS-One

Ashlee & Simpson

Bachman-Tiffany Overdrive

Alabama-ha

Five for Fighting Ben Folds Five

Traci Lords of Acid

Hoobawamba

10,000 Doors Down

B-52Pac

Alanis Morrissey

The Tuneyardbyrds

The Anka-Setzer Orchestra

Fat Boyz II Men

The Jackson Browne Five

Oran “Juice” Newton

Beck Hansen, Hanson and Jeff Beck

Human Bush League

The Traveling Cranberries

Emerson, Lake and Robert Palmer

Tower of Power Station

Neil Young MC

Orleans All Saints

Yes-Club 7

Sting and the Scorpions

Archies of Loaf

Amy Winehouse of Pain

* - Yes, I know. 

Click here for more awful supergroups!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mind over matter

Over the course of last night's Saints defensive debacle against the Texans, different friends of mine reminded me that "it doesn't matter."

Technically, yes, it doesn't matter. Preseason games don't enter into the season tally, and in many cases the coaches are more interested in testing out players than running up the score. It also doesn't matter in the sense that, ultimately, football (as with all sports) is entertainment and it's not like a Saints playoff season will result in more education or highway funding for Louisiana (unfortunately).

But it does matter when I'm sitting there watching it. Because I'm a football fan and there's a game going on in front of me. It's a misguided impulse, perhaps, but I think like an athlete. I like to win when I play games and I like my teams to win games. Just as much, I don't like my teams to lose to cities I like less than New Orleans. For me, watching Saints football is like watching a movie or TV show I've been dying to see — I want it to live up to its expectations. Yes, it's fun to watch with friends and good food, but for me, the game is the thing; it's not just the soundtrack for my beer.

Last night, I watched the game in my apartment after going swimming with my new Saints raft. The raft was a huge hit with the kids at the pool, and some adults too. At 6:30, I came in to watch the pre-game show while eating spaghetti. By opening kickoff, I was focused on the game and live-tweeted it (which, miraculously, didn't result in any loss of followers). So, yes, I did get into it. Because it may not matter, but I had to shake off a little fan rust myself. 

Now that I'm in Louisiana, I'll probably have more chances to watch games with friends than I did while living in Chiefs country. Maybe that'll make a difference. 

But it probably won't matter!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Preseason halftime gripe

I say this all the time every football season, but it bears repeating.

Pre-emptive warning: I'm aware this is armchair quarterbacking, literally. I'm not out there and I can't get in the heads and bodies of other people. But despite that, or maybe because of it, I feel this way:

If you're going to claw your way to the top (in this case, the NFL) and show the ability and intuition to get there, AT LEAST DO YOUR JOB LIKE YOU WANT IT AND APPRECIATE IT.

My problem with sports was always that I had heart and an intense competitive spirit, but not the ability. So it burns me up to see the Saints defense playing like it is right now against the Texans. Can't they at least transfer my competitiveness to their ability and show some life? SOME?

It's one thing to get beat because your opponent's better than you. But at least go down swinging. Jesus. I'm over here swinging with futility for you.

I miss playing flag football. Can't you tell?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Double downer

What if Ford, stinging from the failure of its infamous Edsel, had tried to rectify it by building more Edsels with even more of everything people hated about the car? 

What if the Coca-Cola Company, following the debacle of New Coke, came out with Newer Coke? 

Can you imagine if, in 1976, the Republicans had decided to run another Richard Nixon? And the new Richard Nixon was even more Nixonian than Nixon himself? 

For me, all of these scenarios come to mind when thinking about Rick Perry as the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Seriously, yet another antagonistic Texas cowboy, the literal successor to George W. Bush, is running this soon? And gaining? I realize the American public has the attention span of a gnat with Alzheimer’s, but this still seems really wrong. Like spending $300 million on a Battlefield Earth/Pluto Nash crossover flick. Like an NFL team drafting its next quarterback based on emotional resemblance to Ryan Leaf. Like rebuilding the Titanic and then ramming it into that iceberg again on purpose, because God himself can’t sink this ship, no matter how much pointy-headed liberal bureaucrats hate God! 

All right, I’ll stop now. 

It’s as if the Republican Party had a sensible plan to marginalize its most extreme elements, but then discovered that irritating its critics would be more fun instead. The term “doubling down” comes to mind. The sheer defiance of Paula Deen’s butter-soaked culinary creations in a health-conscious age. Or, for that matter, the KFC Double Down sandwich. Grease is the word. Grease is good. 

Oops, I did it again. I’m eventually going to get to the point. 

I want the Republicans to field a presidential candidate who would genuinely serve the needs of this country. And I don’t say that like some cynical conservatives say the Democrats need to run Joe Liebermans or Zell Millers; I’m not suggesting the Republicans try to appeal to me by running some platform-defying outlier that I’ll never consider anyway. But I do think the GOP should stop catering to tea party extremism and run someone whose idea of small government literally means that, as opposed to meaning gutting social safety nets and infrastructure while running up huge deficits. Oh, and allowing big government interference into personal lives in the name of security and family values. At some point, didn’t the party stand for limited (but effective) government and economic self-reliance? Isn’t there someone who stands for that? How hard can it be for the Republicans to field a Republican?  

(Irrelevant tangent: Did I pluralize the above politicians correctly? Should I have written Joes Lieberman? Zells Miller? Joe Liebersmen?) 

Instead, the entire remaining GOP field seems to be a tribute to spite and to deliberately not learning from past mistakes. And somehow, it seems to work like gangbusters. When Perry can surge while arguing, among other horrible things, that we need to charge deductibles to poor emergency-room patients so that "they got a little skin in the game,” something is very, very wrong in this country. 

(Side note: Perry’s “skin in the game” comment makes me especially angry. Forget his ridiculous idea that poor people are somehow not incredibly interested in health care — is Perry trying to insinuate that only people who can pay for health care have a right to say anything about it? And that the only arguable position on health care is the conservative one? He seems to want to steer people that way: Maybe if we make all people pay for health care, then they’ll all become grumpy bootstrappers who think health care must be earned!) 

Of course, there are Democrats who say that a Perry campaign would be the quickest guarantee of an Obama re-election, so let’s encourage that. In smarter times, I might agree. But a lot of people truly seem to like the Texas governor, whether it’s his stance on the issues, his pronounced swagger or both. And as we all know, beer-having desires can translate into electoral idiocy. So while I’m still confident in Obama’s re-election, I hate to entertain this strain of alternative. 

And it goes beyond mere politics. I want a race where I may prefer one candidate over another, but regardless of outcome would not leave half the nation sick. We used to run tickets that didn’t frighten people; why can’t we do that now?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just say no to no drugs?

Anybody who lives in Louisiana has seen the Drug Free Zone sign outside of a school:


I've noticed that as the signs age, the red circle with the slash through it tends to fade over time. So it screams "DRUGS" with black letters on yellow background (the color scheme said to have the strongest visual impact).

Someone should make a time-lapse video of that. I think it would be pretty funny.

Just say no, kids.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Speech cobbler

One of the beautiful things about e-mail forwards, apart from how thoroughly social networking has eviscerated their existence, is how reliably you can judge them by their covers. The following one came to me in 

GIGANTIC HELVETICA, underlined, bolded and centered like this! With lots of pointless, unnecessary line breaks!

WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO TURN ON THE TV AND HEAR ANY U.S. PRESIDENT, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN, GIVE THE FOLLOWING SPEECH? 

Oh boy, here we go...



'My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.

Mission accomplished! 

And since it’s May 1, 2003, I strongly recommend you invest in Apple about now. And pay off that subprime loan.



Since Congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.



Kind of the way I’m no longer in debt when I run out of money.



This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.

Well, this doesn’t sound so bad. I can get behind this reasonable, albeit quick withdrawal and WHA?!! Reckoning? Are we going to have a moment of reckoning at this juncture in our holy crusade? I reckon we will.



Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria, Australia, and Poland are some of the countries listed there.



I might need a diagram for all the individual corns in this pile of feces: 

• This is nitpicking, I know, but why have two lists? It’s clear what’s on the next one. I doubt you’re going to say the other list is a shopping list. Or a list of your college degrees. 

• Really? The Coalition of the Willing is now the barometer of whatever it is we’re about to mete out? I guess that’s why North Korea is on our shit list. They offered insufficient help burning down civilian huts in Vietnam. 

• Maybe the list being short is a sign of your pigheadedness, not theirs. 

The other list contains every one not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening. 

Did I mention I’m an insufferable asshole of a president? You only voted for me because you were afraid I’d punish you for making an A-minus otherwise.



Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases indefinitely. 

If they want our money, they better bring the tanks on our elective, oil-motivated excursions! 

The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war. 

I don’t claim to be expert on war funding, but isn’t this extremely not even remotely true? And wasn’t the oil we got there supposed to pay for this? 

THEN EVERY YEAR THEREAFTER It'll GO TO OUR SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM SO IT WONT GO BROKE IN 20 YEARS.

Social Security is solvent for far longer than that. And what problems do exist come from our staggeringly short-sighted refusal to put proportional deductions on those making more than $61,000 per year. 



The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hell holes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.



You mean, unless they help us pour our money and troops into Third World hellholes.



Need help with a famine? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France.

Hur hur hur! France effeminate surrender monkeys rude clove cigarettes! Go to them if you need help. All we do is kick ass and skimp on tips.



In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home. 

No, not really. If I’m this much of a prick about foreign policy, you can imagine I’m not a cuddly liberal when it comes to solving our social problems. Oh, and our social problems are not vexing. I helped cause them because of the toxic, miserly, xenophobic, unconstitutional mindset that I will soon outline in greater detail. 

On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth. 

More corn to diagram: 

• We’re just going to pretend that we aren’t occupying your oil-rich countries and that that rightfully sticks in your craw, because we like to pretend you’re just barbarians. Also, like all arrogant bullies, we like a good fight for the hell of it. 

• We’ve taken it upon ourselves to rid the world of a concept. That’s our calling. But it's your duty to help us, because we're us.

Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France or maybe China.



Sheesh... Another shot at France? No good comedian repeats a punch line that fast. Anyway, the French repelled a corrupt monarchy, jettisoned occupying Nazis and have historically provided some of the strongest military support in a variety of worldwide conflicts. And China? Really? One billion communists who hold U.S. debt? Those are your weak-kneed examples?



I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, and Russia. Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. 

Yeah, thanks for not helping us in the Iraq war! That totally cancels out World War II. You know, the war where the world could have fallen to genocidal fascism, and had nothing to do with political diversion, family squabbles and oil. 

I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York. 

The entire reason diplomatic immunity exists is so rogue nations aren’t hostile to diplomats and emissaries from other countries. And really? Crushing cars? Is this that triumph over Big Gubment you so often sing about?



A special note to our neighbors: Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.



Sweet Jesus! Just because you’re raging with testosterone over a war gone bad doesn’t mean you have to slap the kid who just flung a drop of milk on your shoe.



Mexico is also on List 2. Its president and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple thousand extra tanks and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put 'em? Yep, border security.



Well, posse comitatus prevents U.S. military being deployed on U.S. soil in peacetime, but don’t let that stop you from your racist fantasy.



Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty - starting now.



Well, that’s arrogant too, but NAFTA does suck.



We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we'll be drilling for oil in Alaska ... 

We already do. And most of it goes to Asia. 

- which will take care of this country's oil needs for decades to come. 

Um, no. 

If you're an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there. 

I’m never eating corn again. Sigh. Here we go: 

• Why? So we can live in a country where our Alaskan oil goes? 

• So we can live in a country that has a healthier perspective on combat, economic priorities and humility? 

• Does this mean somewhere, there’s a country full of levelheaed former Americans who still believe in free speech, clean air and a non-insane foreign policy? Count me in! 

It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. 

Except for, you know, welfare. 

Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, 'darn tootin.'

Swell!

Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. 

That often happens at the point of a gun/tank/manless drone. 

It is time to eliminate hunger in America. It is time to eliminate homelessness in America. 

By starving homeless people to death. Two birds! And we can keep the proceeds for more tax cuts!

To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won't forget.



Unless we decide to invade Baja California and you aren’t fawning over that, in which case we will.

To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.



Because even though we’re totally going to rid the world of Middle East terrorism, and fully intend to lord it over your heads, you’re still going to be invaded or something. Also, we’ll need translators because we’re provincial dicks and we fired all our gay ones.



God bless America ... 

...and no place else. 

Thank you and good night.' 

It’s probably daytime.



If you can read this in English, thank a soldier. 

If you can read this in its unreadable original form, thank your visual cortex.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Preseason football is...

• Like the first day of school, when you're dizzy with the promise of a bunch of new friends, even if you never see half of them again;

• Depressing when you see a new player wearing a number you didn't realize was available;

• A lot like the 1987 NFL strike after the first series or two;

• Like watching a new episode of Saturday Night Live, in that it cements past seasons as permanently bygone eras;

• The closest football ever comes to being baseball;

• Like the Tracey Ullman Show incarnation of The Simpsons;

• Makes me want to hum, "OIL CAN," like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Because they're rusty.

• When guys who are built like me appear, however fleetingly, to have a chance at NFL glory;

• About the only time you ever see obscure football numbers like 48 on the field.

• A stark reminder of why having a regular-season football game two weeks from now would be a terrible idea, Roger Goodell.

• A good time to remember that the 2008 Detroit Lions went 4-0 in preseason, so yes, it means nothing at all.

• Like an oven on preheat.

• Like Christmas in July. In August.

• Like seeing a beloved friend or relative that you haven't seen for too long, and they look and act vaguely different, but you don't care because OMG FOOTBALL!!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Party all the term

I’m outraged that President Obama apparently had a party where he did the Electric Slide with Chris Rock...and I wasn’t there.

I’ll bet that party was epic! Obama, Rock, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, Grant Hill, Charles Barkley, key Democrats...Oprah Winfrey would have been there too, but she apparently had something better to do. Which sounds snide and sarcastic, but given that she’s Oprah, she probably did. 

But as The Onion so aptly reported, many critics are protesting Obama turning 50 during such dark economic days. Peruse any comments section on any article about this party and you’ll see I’m not joking. How dare the President of the United States have the audacity to throw a birthday party! The average American is struggling, and would never have a party at a time like this! 

Yes, I remember that all through George W. Bush’s presidency, I criticized him for often fiddling while Rome burned. But there is a difference between Obama and Bush in this regard. Bush would say things like, “Now watch this drive,” while being pressed about global terrorism. When asked what he gave up in wartime — wars he started — his answer was, “Golf.” On his frequent vacations, he made a production of clearing brush at his Crawford ranch, image-making not unlike Ronald Reagan’s ranch persona. 

President Obama actually shows up to work. Whether or not you like what he’s saying and doing, he’s actually at the White House and front-and-center addressing huge national problems — much of which he inherited from past administrations and Congresses. He gets hell enough for that, so one can only imagine how much more grief he’d get if he were ducking into some hideaway in Chicago or Long Island for a third of his presidency. When we do hear about his leisurely functions — and it’s usually secondhand — it involves him going out to a show with Michelle or this sort of event that, as independently wealthy people, they pay for themselves. And by the way, those are the only two objections I remember anyone having about Obama allegedly being personally frivolous. 

People in any high-stress job — scratch that, everybody — needs and deserves a release from time to time. Anyone who follows a workout regimen knows that it isn’t just about the running, squats, thrusts and crunches — it’s also about taking days off so your body can repair itself. Muscles don’t get built during exercise; they rebuild during downtime. Just as resting your body is as important as working out, so is stress relief integral to ensuring top form. 

I’m sure lots of people wished Obama wouldn’t smile or even sleep until he frees the world from all our problems, but that’s not productive, nor is it realistic. It’s not as if Obama had “rescue the Dow Jones industrial average” blocked off on his planner for Sunday night, but Chris Rock showed up, so that went to hell. 

I don’t begrudge the president for letting loose. It’s one thing when one does it with alarming frequency (and publicly) while electively entering into war and into massive deficits. It’s another when a hardworking leader is trying to contain those wars and monster deficits, with fire from both sides, and lets loose twice in a two-year span. 

Maybe we should all take a cue from the president and take time to party instead of being so partisan. 

I’m here all week.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Good as gold

I often hear about people complaining that our money has no intrinsic value because we're no longer on the gold standard.

I guess it depends on your definition of "intrinsic value." All gold has in that respect is its rarity, because it isn't particularly functional. Its value is an arbitrary concept decided by people. Which, come to think of it, is exactly the gold-standard crowd's complaint about cash.

Everything that has value does so because we as a society have assigned it some. And I don't see any virtue in asserting that our money has no worth. It's the rest of us who don't feel that way who ensure that it does.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Superman does no waiting

Last night, I dreamed I was having dinner in a swanky apartment. Counting the host, there were five people there — the others were a couple and Clark Kent. We had a lively chat around the table while our host, an old man in a tuxedo, prepared dinner. Right before the food was finished, the couple said it was time to leave, followed by the door shutting. Clark Kent then told me, "That's my cue," and sprinted off. Cue the door shutting again.

Suddenly, I was alone. I walked into the kitchen, but the host wasn't there. But I did get a glimpse of his spread — a single chicken quarter and some kind of congealed casserole. After some searching of the hallway, I could hear that he was now taking a bath. I thought about waiting for him, but waiting for a host to get out of the bathtub in the middle of his party, when no one else stuck around and the food sucked, seemed less like a good idea and more like circumstantial stalking. Cue the door slamming for a third time.

When I walked out, I suddenly wasn't wearing pants. I went back inside, found my laptop case and wore that as pants. Then I woke up to my neighbors apparently trying to shatter the wall with their argument.

I've got to stop watching Superman and Family Guy before bed. Or sleeping at all, for that matter.

A change to keep?

I guess I have a little political fire left in me.

I just saw someone complaining online about how Obama can give their dollars back and keep the change.

I immediately beelined to my blog to make sure it wasn't 2008 again. Are people really still saying this? (The weird thing is, if they'd come up with that catchphrase now, it might actually be clever and biting. But they coined it during the election, when it was just reactionary. Now it's stale. And, despite our economic woes, still astonishingly ignorant.)

In what situation would this historically funky economy be any better? Would it have been better if we elected McCain president, didn't pull out of Iraq, possibly went to war in Iran, most likely would not have gotten Osama bin Laden and favored even more deep tax cuts for the wealthy (our main choke on revenue these days) over the incentives Obama implemented?

Would it have been better to elect someone who holds an open hostility toward government, who sees what pathetically little infrastructure and social spending we have left as THE cause for our ills? Seems to me that deeper cuts and even more unfettered wealth concentration would leave us even more down and out, and desperate.

The way I see it, it's not Obama's fault the economy sucks — faint praise as it is, he should be credited for it not being worse. And neither side can say that he hasn't tried to hear them out — not if I'm hearing the complaints correctly. "Obama is a corporate, centrist sellout!" "Obama is a socialist enacting a dangerous liberal agenda!"

The irony of the "keep the change" snark is that it comes exactly from the people who shouldn't say it. They're the people who want to "change" back to what we just had, which was great for some and a disaster for most. Republicans held control of the country's economic engine for a long time. If both sides are going to criticize Obama for "his" bad economy, then it's only fair to hold the Reagan-Bush contingent responsible for the deliberate economic decisions that Obama is now having to fix. 

My guess is that those who want their money (and occasionally guns) back have more money under Obama than they did under Bush (and, thanks to Obama, they can carry concealed weapons in national parks now). Not that they'd ever admit it. That's change they'd keep to themselves.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Why I don't take chances

One night around June 1999, my then-girlfriend’s friend dropped by my house unannounced. He asked me if I would vouch for him spending the night there if anyone asked. In reality, he was heading to his girlfriend’s house. Though he was over 18, he lived with his parents and they didn’t approve of such sinful hijinks. So he told them he was staying with me and gave them my phone number. I consented, but I was worried that my terrible lying skills would show through if his parents called.

“How likely are they to call?” I asked.

“Someone would have to die,” he replied.

We laughed.

His best friend died that night in an accident.

His father called the next morning. He didn’t believe my cover story. He fussed at me. My friend not only lost his buddy, but also got in trouble.

And that is why I don’t take chances.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Things I thought I'd have (but don't)

Every young person imagines at some point what their home will look like when they’re adults. This mental picture is influenced by the dwellings you inhabit and visit, available technology and your own ridiculous fantasies. Now that I’ve lived in a few places (including two swingin’ bachelor pads), I can look back on the difference between youthful imagination and the future (which, as many an ’80s commercial assured us, is now).

Here is a list of things I thought I’d have in my dream lair, but don’t:

Land-line telephone — I didn’t get my first cell phone until Christmas 2004, and even that wound up lapsing for several months until Mardi Gras 2006, when I got the phone line I still use today. So it’s no big surprise that I found it amazing in 2005 that my friend, who owned a condo, had only a cell phone. This was the first time I’d ever realized that someone could do that. It didn’t seem right somehow. In a way, it still doesn’t. But only once have I had my own landline, and I never used it. I felt weird about never using the number (417-881-2309), but I quite possibly hold the distinction of being the youngest person to have a listing in a phone book in 2009. Once, when I left my wallet at a department store counter, the girls actually looked me up and called my land line. When I beelined back there on my own, the girls were impressed that I was even in the book. Odd, but cool, conversation starter.

Phone book — I still find these useful at times, but not on the level that I once did. Even with the faster, easier, more ecologically friendly ways to find phone numbers now, I still lament that I don’t have a dog-eared phone book.

Encyclopedia — My grandparents had a set of Collier’s Encyclopedias from 1960. My dad’s mother had a nearly identical set from the year before. As you might expect, I often read these things just for fun. They also proved useful for research papers, though in at least one case my teacher remarked, “1960 facts are 30 years old!” (Fine wine, am I right?) I should have said, “Yes, and you don’t look a day over 28.”

Entertainment center — When I was 13, my college-age cousin gave me an entertainment cabinet he was throwing out. It was somewhat sloppily built and he was disposing of it on account of getting married, but for me it was a tremendous score. It was bigger than I was, and I almost felt guilty about having it; my parents didn’t even have one. Nevertheless, I made that thing the centerpiece of my bedroom. It held my TV, my CD player, videotapes, records, CDs and much more. When I got my first VCR that Christmas (a 4-head — also better than my parents’) and a cable box at 16, the ensemble was complete. When I look back at it these days, it was anything but fancy or elegant — most of my small appliances were too small for their respective spaces, and few if any matched each other — but at the time, it seemed like I had far more than I deserved.

Eventually, the shelves began to sag and the entire setup began to fall apart. So when I was 19, I decided to trash it. But the garbagemen wouldn’t pick it up, and it wound up at our new house when we moved that August. It stayed in the garage for a few more years before it finally went to the heap. I never replaced it, and to this day I have a newer TV (even smaller than the one in the entertainment center) on a microwave cart with two Nintendo systems attached and a stereo underneath. It’s very utilitarian. And nothing like the upgrade I figured I’d have when I was 31 and living large.

My parents eventually assuaged any guilt I had by getting really fancy stuff for themselves, such as fancy cabinets, video game systems and, later, flatscreens. Now they laugh at me and refuse to watch anything on my “outdated peasant setup.” (Not a direct quote.)

Ashtrays — I don’t think I ever thought I’d one day smoke, but I still figured my friends would. But I don’t and very few of my friends do, and certainly not indoors. The closest I’ve come to having an ashtray is a soup can on the patio. I don’t even have that much at the moment.

Barbecue pit — So many family functions revolved around barbecue. My grandfather had several pits both at his home and his camp (his frugality, including replacing the bottom of one pit by halving a trash can lengthwise, is family legend), and my dad even built his own massive pit while working as a welder (at my suggestion, he welded some M’s between the legs for McGibboney). Barbecue is still my favorite food and kind of party. But I have never had a pit of my own. In Springfield, it’s illegal to use a pit on an apartment patio per fire code. And I don’t have one in Baton Rouge.

Desktop computer — I have a desktop computer. It’s an ancient IBM that I got from a bank that threw it away. I used it during college to write papers in my bedroom. It never had Internet access, but it did have a floppy drive, Microsoft Word 97 and a sexy case of the Melissa virus. It’s still sitting in my closet at my parents' house, along with two perfectly functional but redundant VCRs. These days, I have a MacBook Pro laptop that I use both for home and for work. It’s more than enough.

VCR — I have a bank of these, like I just said, not counting the ones I had before. They were my favorite piece of technology for years. But the only one I have in my place is built into my TV. And I’ve never figured out how to use its timer, which means I’ve lost brain cells since I was 8. I don’t know what’s sadder — that fact, or that I still need a VHS tape if I want to record something.

Dresser — While living in Springfield, I borrowed an heirloom chest of drawers from my dad. I used it to store shoeboxes full of photos and college papers. Dad has it back now, and is using it for its intended purpose. Meanwhile, I have collapsible cubbies that serve the same purpose and take up less space.

Desk — I have a simulated-wood computer desk, but not an old-school, heavy, real-wood behemoth with a glass top and multiple drawers on both sides. As a writer from an early age, I assumed that’s the first thing I’d own. My mom keeps my grandfather’s desk, which she recently refinished, so there’s still a chance for this one.

Recliner — Everyone has one. I don’t. Probably because I’m not a lazy boy. Just a lazy comedian, clearly.

A lot of food — Let’s just say my kitchen is nowhere near as stocked as your average family’s. I might as well unplug the refrigerator at night.

Newspaper/magazine subscriptions — Blasted Internet!

A game room — I have the games. I should do this while there’s no woman in my life to ruin it for me.

Defend to the debt our rights

It's so hard for me to blog about politics these days. Not because I don't have strong feelings, or because I worry about expressing them, but because financial austerity is both too wonky and too aggravating to warrant your typical Ian blog.

I will say that Congress is so busy cutting to the bone, they seem to have forgotten the mounds of flesh elsewhere just begging to be lanced. Now there's an Ian blog analogy for you!

Time was, when politicians used to clash over obviously one-sided issues, it involved civil rights, clean air, military involvement in dubious wars, etc. We must be getting to the short strokes when we can't muster up a better fight than over stuff like the debt ceiling that no one objected to until recently. 

So yeah, I wish there was more of a check on Wall Street influence in the White House. I'd like to see taxes raised on the wealthiest Americans because, historically, that's a big part of what's necessary for a strong economy. But that's about all I have to say. Others are making their cases far better. Anyway, I'm saving my energies for the 2012 election. That's already getting good.