Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Planet Murr

My dentist talked me out of my last wisdom tooth the other day, and I mourned aloud that this would cause the rest of my teeth to stampede for the exit. That's what I concluded was the reason they were all crowded up at the front of my mouth even though they ostensibly had more room without the wisdom teeth: they're trying to get away from the carnage. They're already almost out the door and the only reason I still have them is they tripped all over each other in their panic. She wasn't impressed with my analysis. "Oh, no," she explained. "You've just got 'mesial drift.' It's very common in older people. Your teeth naturally drift toward the front of your mouth."

Mesial drift. It's all clear now. I'm just entering another epoch in Planet Murr. Planet Murr has been on the move since its inception. Oh sure, it's hard to imagine any movement at all, especially when Planet Murr is watching TV, and harder yet to imagine that at any point its fingers could touch its toes, but in fact it started out with all the major visible portions bunched up together. And slowly, almost imperceptibly, they all began to drift apart. In the early Murrassic period, changes were relatively rapid. There was notable volcanic activity during which a pair of cones were built up out of virtually nothing. This epoch, the Holobscene, coincided with an age of thrusting and upheaval;
uplift was the order of the day. Volcanic activity also led to swarms of smaller extrusions for a time, particularly in the nose and chin regions; remarkably, there has been no observation of dikes entering along cracks, except that one time. And then followed a relatively quiet period of sedimentation.

The mechanism for the drifting tendency of Planet Murr's crust had been a mystery until the discovery of the central rift in its bottom from which new material is more or less constantly being pumped out. Seafloor spreading has been noted in the same vicinity. Most of the more catastrophic shifting movements, such as the most recent detachment of the underarm skin from the underlying muscular structure, had seemed random and unpredictable until the full extent of Planet Murr's many faults were detected, pointed out, discussed in the social media, and mapped.

Throughout this modern era, the volcanoes have eroded gradually, culminating in a major landslide during a time when Planet Murr's molten core reasserted
itself. Since then a quiet period has reemerged, replacing all the other periods. At present most of the visible changes have been brought about by the folding of previously laid strata and weathering, although pressures from the gaseous core continue to be exerted upon the material. Clues to the metamorphic nature of the current crust material include its general nubbly texture and the observation that most of the components of the outer layers of Planet Murr are lined up and pointing in the same direction (down).

Ain't that the schist.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ball Park Winners

Well, there are other ball parks besides Fenway. I'm told.

Wrigley Field is a charming example. It was next up after Fenway and promptly installed quirks of its own. It's got scalloped edges and an extra chunk in right field, and it's all hugged by a brick wall covered with ivy that can actually eat baseballs. The fielder gets to decide if he's going in there after one or just holding up his arms for a ground-rule double like a big pussy. Sticking with the theme of being bollixed up by Nature, the park is sited next to a howling and properly quirky wind off Lake Michigan. In a nod to Wrigley tradition, Candlestick Park was later situated in a perpetual hurricane. Denver's Coors Field one-upped them all by removing most of the air altogether.

Fenway and Wrigley are the only survivors of those days; the newest currently occupied park didn't show up for another 52 years. The old Yankee Stadium is gone now, too. Yankee Stadium, the House That Ruth Built After The Sumbitch Left Boston, was suitably lumpy. Not only that, there were three large stone monuments to star players parked right out in center field that players had to negotiate around. Serial nutcase Jimmy Piersall once hid behind the monuments during a game to have a word with Babe Ruth's ghost, but Babe Ruth's ghost was drunk. The stadium was renovated between 1973-1975 during which time the Yankees had to share the Mets' stadium, leading to confusion over who had the home-field advantage (uh, it's always the Yankees). Then the old stadium was retired in 2009 and replaced by a new one next door. The famous old metal frieze that had adorned the old stadium was supposed to be stuck onto the new as a salute to history, but it had too much scrap value and somehow disappeared into the Bronx. The new stadium safely quarantines the monuments off field, features improvements that help keep the players from getting fan cooties on them, is the most expensive ball park ever built, and oh who cares.
And by the way, Go Red Sox.

But as Yankee did, stadiums get tatty, and new teams proliferate like fruit flies, and owners conspire to vacuum money out of taxpayers, and what with one thing and another we've got new ball parks coming down the pike all the time. The Houston Astros kicked it off with their Astrodome in 1965. Right off the bat, as it were, we were in trouble: the field was symmetrical. Symmetrical! It had a lid on it, and it was air-conditioned. The pitchers not only brought the heat, they brought the humidity. They took a stab at real grass but it kept steaming up the joint and so they invented fake grass and rolled that in. It was all wrong.

Other parks followed that attempted to make an indoor sport out of baseball, but eventually they started building stadiums that hearkened back to the so-called "jewel-boxes" Fenway and Wrigley: seating in mandatory forest green, red brick facades, and antique announcers. Wrigley itself underwent renovation; as the last holdout, it finally installed lighting for night games, thus signing the death warrant for the time-honored practice of playing hooky from work to watch a ball game. In keeping with tradition, however, they refused to install a winning team.

Nationals Park was the first to receive LEED certification as a green building, but given the standards for stadiums--Chase Field is air-conditioned when the roof is open--it probably just means they heat the dugouts with recycled hot dog farts. The Marlins in Miami finally broke the mold by daring to be modern. After twenty consecutive retro-style parks were built, they had a different idea. There are lime
green fences. There's glass. There are swooping lines of concrete. There are waterless urinals. Two long aquariums stretch out behind home plate, stocked with colorful, freaked-out fish.

It's not the worst idea. At least it snaps the trend to manufactured nostalgia. It's possible to go modern without sacrificing quirkiness. I propose a park shaped like a double helix. The warning track could be a Moebius strip. Or a moat with a single roaming shark. In deep center field, a small Starbucks is in play. An ironic ukulele band replaces the organ. Let's do it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Almost Heaven

It's the season. That apple tang is in the air, the sun is sliding lower, the chains are jingling under the school buses. I feel that salt-peanut jones coming on and I close my eyes and drift to heaven: Fenway Park. Hot dogs. The Green Monster. The huge pillar between the seat I paid for and home plate, and the crick in my neck.

Fenway Park opened in 1912. It set the standard. This is how you build a ball park: hire a drunk to lay the line for the outfield. Throw in random shit for obstacles, like some twentieth-century version of Angry Birds. You're not going for perfection here; you've got a squashed pentagon of a city block to fill in, next to a swamp. The outfield is shaped like a hound's-tooth check, with a dipsy-do in right field lurching into a sort of fang in right-center, and over on the left you've erected a massive wall to keep people from catching a game for free from Landsdowne Street. But don't stop there. Check your roster for assets and liabilities and then screw around with the dimensions of the field until you wring some home runs out of it.

Duffy's Cliff
Forget square: this field didn't even used to be flat. There was a ten-foot terrace in left field up against the wall. That was to make up the difference between the field and street level. Fans were welcome to sit there and the fielders had to run uphill to make plays without trompling any of them. A guy named Duffy was graceful enough at it that they called it Duffy's Cliff, but Bob "Fatty" Fothergill tripped on it and would be rolling still if he hadn't flattened the shortstop and fetched up near second.

The wall wasn't called the Green Monster then. Everything was in black and white, as you can see from the photos, and besides it was covered with ads. There's a red seat in the stands marking the longest ball ever hit in Fenway. Ted Williams was robbed. That ball would have gone even farther if the guy in the seat hadn't gotten his noggin in its way.

In 1975 I lived in Boston but watched the World Series on television, Red Sox vs. the Cincinnati Reds.
But you could hear the roar of the crowd through every window in town. We were all hooked up to the same nervous system. The next year, because our suffering was not pure enough, we were threatened with modernity in the form of a fancy-pants electronic scoreboard. We picketed. Our dog had a sandwich board that read "if I could reach it, I'd piss on it." He was a very charismatic dog, and the board is still old-school.

There are a couple hundred reasons baseball is cooler than every other game, and one of them is the screwiness of the ball parks. We don't need no stinkin' yard lines, or meter lines either. This ain't soccer, and we don't play in a box. Our fields are laid out with the precision of a man shrugging himself some room in a beanbag chair.  The idiosyncrasies appeal to Americans. We like to be different in ways that don't necessarily make sense. It's why we don't have the metric system or universal health care. Would Robert Frost ever have had kilometers to go before he sleeps? No.

I'm on board with most of it, too. Single-payer health care can't come soon enough, but don't nobody touch Fenway Park.

My apologies to anyone who tripped over this post last Sunday when they weren't ready for it. It went off prematurely--that's what can happen when you're really excited. I have cleaned everything up and we should be good to go now.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fiat Lux

Fiat Lux. That was the motto for my college, where "Liat Fux" was a perennial graffito. It should have been Dave's motto: let there be light. Dave's a huge fan of the light. He's a switch flicker. We go back and forth on this. He'll go through the house flicking on light switches and leaving them on as he leaves the room. It's as though he has this huge personal halo effect. I, on the other hand, prefer to bring darkness upon the face of the deep.

It's not just that I turn off the lights when I leave the room. If I enter a room that has a light on, I judge it has already had plenty enough light already. I give the room a quick once-over and then turn off the light, and then enter it. I know where I'm going. The bed is over there, the closet is to the right, and one more turn will bring me to the potty. Who needs light? If I'm going to check the front door lock before I go to bed, I'll creep through the darkened room until I can feel the door handle. It wouldn't take much to pop on the light, check the door handle, and turn the light off again, but I never do it.

So whenever we leave the house of an evening, we have this duel. Dave turns on the hall light and the basement light and maybe one or two lamps in the living room. His reasoning is that people will think we're home and they won't bust in and steal our TV. Plus it won't be all dark when we get home. Seriously? I say. We need to have the lights on for three days just so we don't have to feel our way three feet to a light switch when we come home? What, do you think electricity just comes pouring out of the walls? (There is some evidence for that.) Here's the real scoop. If you come upon our house at night and the lights are on, we're not home. If NO lights are on, I'm home alone. If the kitchen is aglow with
We ain't home.
the light from two open refrigerators, Dave's home alone. If you knock, he'll totally make you a sandwich.

He will. I should be fair. There is another element to Dave's urge to illuminate. He has a fine consideration of the needs of others, and a broad notion of who those Others might be, and they might include resident chocolate Easter bunnies he couldn't bear to chew the ears off of, various of Tater's toys, and certainly Pootie, for whom he will leave the TV on if the Lakers are going to be playing, after making sure it's on the right station. When he turns out a light, he can sense that somebody somewhere is going to be disappointed.

So one night I went upstairs to put on my jammies. The bedroom was dark. This is not a problem, because I know where I'm going. I take three steps into the room and suddenly there's a horrible clatter and shriek and I'm on the floor with a big stick jammed in my abdomen. I'm pretty sure I'm mortally wounded. There's an exploded spleen in there, or a mashed gall bladder, or a grievous intestinal intrusion. I roll on my side and probe for blood and eventually I decide I'm going to live after all. There is a chair on its side next to me. I had tipped it over and fallen belly-first onto the leg of it in one motion. I hobble downstairs clutching my gut and briefly explain the incident. And we're both paralyzed.
There's blame all over the place and nowhere to assign it. Dave has left a chair under the smoke alarm from having changed the battery. If I had flicked on the light I would have seen it clear as day. Dave wishes I would get in the habit of flicking on lights, but on the other hand he knows he probably should have put the chair back in its place right away. I think he's done the Lord's work changing the battery, but on the other hand I'm the injured party. We're stuck in perfect blame parity. The only solution is in the beer fridge.

It's a classic standoff. It's a little like the Democrats vs. the Republicans, locked into positions and unable to move forward. Only in that case, one party balks at turning on the light and the other has excavated a pit in the bedroom and lined it with broken glass and wolverines. Other than that, same kind of deal.

I would like to state that neither Dave nor I is as extreme as I have depicted in this post, except me.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Past Over

I have some very old photograph albums. My father stars in one of them as a toddler, and he was beginning to toddle in 1909. All of the action takes place in Bisbee, Arizona, where his family had moved because his mom had the consumption and it was thought that the dry air would be salutary. It wasn't. In the rare photos of her, she is bedridden and wan, with the long-suffering aspect of a poet, which she was. She managed to eke out three children and a group of poems and then withered away. There are some surprises. Daddy is shown in a little cowboy outfit that looks just as fake as the ones kids wore fifty years later, and shoot--they probably had authentic cowboys moseying around then. Also, he had cocker spaniels and burros, and he only let me have a dang parakeet.

The album is made of two slabs of wood bound by leather straps; the pages are black and the tiny photos are glued in. Some familiar family critter that straddled the pet/livestock categories probably provided both the glue and the leather. Someone whose handwriting was as wretched as my dad's made notations in white ink. You can hold his whole childhood in one hand.

Mom's old albums are less rustic. The photos are neatly anchored in with fancy photo corners, and every one is captioned in her neat  hand, thanks to her having been taught the Palmer method of  handwriting. I was also taught the Palmer method but rejected it soon after for artsy fartsy embellishments like the squiggly E, and so now no one, including myself, can read my handwriting. Several photo albums reveal her to be a happy young woman with friends and some admirers (who IS that man with his arm around my mom!). She dutifully maintained albums when her kids came along. I arrived way past the time anyone was specifically interested in having another baby, and my own album covers my life up to age fourteen in about as many pages.

I got a decent camera in the '70s and took a lot of pictures. You didn't want to waste them, because film and processing could run into some money, but sometimes you'd come across something--copulating elks, say--and end up with thirty shots of the same copulating elks, each successive one taking up more and more of the frame as you crept ever closer. I'd buy an album and corners and select the last two elk shots and put them in. Not right away, of course. First I had to accumulate several years of pictures and then stack up some guilt about them and then put the best ones in the album, but the rest were stashed away somewhere in their little envelopes with the negatives for
perpetuity. You couldn't throw away a photo or a negative any more than you could toss out a mystery key that you hadn't used in twenty years. Some time around then they came up with the albums that had magic pages and you placed your pictures in them carefully and tried to smooth out the plastic sheet
over them, and in a few years they had all turned orange and they either fell right out or they had welded themselves to the page.

The thing is, we tended to haul out the albums pretty often and have a look. And if I try to find a photo to scan now from those days, I'm pretty good at remembering if it was in the big red album or the smaller yellow one or any of a dozen others. Now I've gone digital and I don't know where anything is. My life has never been better documented, but don't ask me to prove it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Public Poots And Beaver Chutes

We like to think people were more uptight in the olden days, but know this: folks used to sit down side by side on the biffy and chat over the day's events, over the day's effluents. Men and women. Yes, they did. It is the probable origin of the phrase "shooting the breeze." In contrast, many of us moderns can barely manage a poot in a public restroom equipped with metal stalls. I'm no better. If I sense something splatty coming down the pike, I will totally wait until my neighbor flushes to cut loose. Meanwhile, she's waiting for me to flush. Everyone's uncomfortable, and all because we do not want it known that shit happens, at least to us. We're fooling nobody.

The ruse can get more extreme. Some people catch their own poop in their hands and lower it into the toilet to avoid the plopping sound that will alert others of their tribe to their humanity. Yes, they do. It's enough to make one rethink the handshake. For people this sensitive, there is a new product out: PooPourri. This simple oily spray, when applied to the toilet water in advance of a turd incursion, will seal all odor inside the water and allow fellow restroom users to imagine that you have merely gone into the stall to eat a sandwich.

If only we shot castoreum out of our butts, a trip to the ladies' room would be more like meeting up in a bakery. Unfortunately you have to be a beaver to shoot castoreum out of your butt. Only beavers have castor sacs, from which they distribute fragrant calling cards for the benefit of other beavers. Castoreum smells great. Trappers in Ontario are paid $10-40 for a harvested castor sac. Thanks to the internet, anyone can obtain helpful instructions for removing castor sacs from a beaver ("first, you need a beaver").

The musky vanilla scent of castoreum has led to its use as a perfume ingredient. A good snootful of beaver is thought to be alluring. Shalimar, for example, contains beaver oogie. There is, without a doubt, some perfume somewhere made of rodent splat and whale barf that you can dab behind your ears. The whale had no further plans for its puke, but it's not good news for the beaver, who was having a rough enough go just being good hat material. There are humane alternatives to beaver excavation in Africa, where the petrified hyrax poop serves much the same purpose. Inasmuch as the poop has aged for hundreds if not thousands of years, impact on the current hyrax population is low. The hyrax looks something like a guinea pig but is actually closer to an elephant, although to be on the safe side, it should not be too close. Taxonomists note that the hyrax, like the elephant, has toenails, tusks, and a good memory. I am informed that the tiny two-pound elephant cousin is not kosher. But if you want a nice perfume note, you can do worse than chipping out a fossil hyrax turd.

Where people get a little squirmy about this sort of thing is in the use of beaver butt goo as a food additive. No one much blames Scandinavians for using it to flavor their highly alcoholic snaps--it's going to take something strong to tuck into a platter of lye-soaked codfish. But elsewhere, it will show up as a flavoring in items as common as vanilla ice cream. You will not find "beaver bottom exudant" in the ingredient list: it will be listed as "natural flavoring." You're probably best off not thinking about it at all.

For sure you don't want to know what's in Rocky Road.

Thanks to readers Max Roth, Bill Webb, and Rosemary Lombard for pelting me with useful blog pellets.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Blind Date

My new iPad mini lounged on the counter with its little snap-on hat, but didn't do anything. I sauntered by it a time or two with a breezy insouciance. We were like to victims of a blind date, eyeing each other in the coffee shop, and I had the uncomfortable feeling that my iPad was beginning to regret coming. This is stupid, I thought. I marched over to the counter and snapped off its hat. So, what's your sign?

My confidence was all bluff. Under the hat, I suspected, was a new form of IQ test in tablet form, and as usual I would crap out on the spatial-design section and gain a little back on the spelling part and wait in vain for an essay portion to pop up, and when the results came back I wasn't going to like them. I was not eager to get to know my new friend. Well, let's see, I thought. Let's start with the little notepad thingy. I can type something on that, maybe. A keyboard popped up at the bottom of the page. I decided to get the feel of it; I'm a good typist. THE QUICK BROWN FOC JUMPRF OBRT YHR LSXY FOH.


Okay, this was strictly a hunt-and-peck operation. I folded it up neatly and tried to figure out how to navigate over to the internet. How do you make the page go away? There were no buttons. I finally gave up and pushed what I thought was the off button, and my home page with all the little icons popped up. Oh! I hit the browser button, and introduced my Device to my personal facebook page. I figured they'd have to learn to get along sooner or later. Then I traveled over to Murrmurrs and set up a button for it. Excellent! Can I respond to comments on this thing? I selected a comment and hit "reply." A window appeared, all ready for me to put something clever in it. But this time there was no keyboard. I turned the thing right and left and upside down and couldn't find a magic keyboard button. I leaned on the machine in despair and up popped a keyboard. Whoa! What had I done? Could I do it again?

That's how evolution works. You're some bird like every other bird you know, only your beak is
screwy. Basically, you're deformed. Your upper mandible tweaks right, and your lower mandible tweaks left. Depressed, you do what anyone would do to make yourself feel better--you overeat. And halfway through your first pine cone, you discover that your weird bill is superior for extracting seeds from a pine cone. You eventually die a very fat bird, but not before sending your magnificent mutation to the next generation of crossbills.

So I have done something entirely by accident, meaning merely to shut the machine down and let it think about what it's done, and lo--the keyboard appears. I have no idea how I did this, but I will start swiping at things and poking at things until it happens again, and this time I will be paying attention.

Okay, that has nothing to do with evolution. I am not a crossbill. I did not independently come up with a good idea. I am a research parakeet in a psychology lab, pecking at everything in sight until a pellet of food drops out, and even when it does, it's going to take a few more times before I put it together.

Meanwhile, I have switched back to facebook because it had been a whole ten minutes since I checked on my friends, and I don't like to be thought of as neglectful, and when I go back to Murrmurrs, I find I can't summon the keyboard again. I scratch at the screen. I delicately trace my fingertip at points around the margins. I hold my finger down for a second and a bubble appears, but I don't know why. I am about to give up when I remember something I was shown in the Mac store when I wasn't paying attention.

Siri? I say to the machine. Nothing. I put my lips closer to the screen. Siri? Nothing.

It's okay. I don't know what I'd say to her anyway. You like to make a good first impression. You don't want to call a girl up and say right off could you make my keyboard pop up? She might get the wrong idea. Or, like the fellow at the Mac store, she might have no idea where to start with me. Siri? Make it go. It's pitiful.

Maybe Siri is busy with all the other Devices out there. Maybe if everyone wants to talk with Siri at once, they have to take a number. Although Santa Claus manages it.

It's probably not a good idea to get into a habit with her anyway. Supposedly if I can get this Device to work for me, it will communicate with all my other Devices. I don't have that many other Devices, but I'm not sure I want them talking about me behind my back. This could set them all on the road to mutiny.

But look! Right there in the Settings page! It says Personal Hot Spot. I turned that on right away.

Sometimes things aren't as much fun as you think they're going to be.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Blackcord Jumble

Recently I reached into the jumble of cords in a drawer and pulled out the very camera cord I wanted in a matter of seconds, and I realized: I might not own enough Devices. I might be falling behind. What to do? Should I run out and buy an iPad?

I asked my friends. What do you do with your iPad? What does it do that all my other shit doesn't do?

The answer was universal. Nothing. It doesn't do anything that your other shit doesn't do. It just does it splendider. It strokes instead of scratches. It coos instead of squawks. It brings you beer in a fine cold glass instead of a red plastic cup. You will love it.

Good enough for me! I tootled off to the Mac store and was much relieved to find it virtually empty of customers, with an eager trio of employees behind the front desk smiling at me as I came through the door. I know how these things go, and there's always some humiliation involved. Somebody is about to find out just how old and ignorant I am, and my chances of understanding anything are much better if my salesman isn't pressed for time. Also, if there are fewer people in the store, there are fewer witnesses to my decrepitude.

"May I help you with anything?"

"Probably," I said. "Apparently, I don't have enough Devices." I like to start out like this. It introduces me as a fairly funny person. At least, it does if the other person chuckles. If the other person does not chuckle, but merely stares at me, and fingers the bone in his ear, it introduces me as an odd and possibly idiotic person. If a comedian pratfalls in a forest but nobody is there to laugh, she is just another pitiable heap of humanity struggling in the duff.

"We have devices," the youngster said after a moment, trying. "What did you have in mind?"

In for a penny, in for a pound. "I was thinking one of those tabletty thingies," I said. I like to start out like this. It lets the salesman know that he has a lot of work to do, but that it might be amusing, if he would just relax already. And not keep staring, and fingering the bone in his ear.

We walked over to the iPad display. "What do you want it for?"

I have no idea. What does he mean by that? He sounds like someone who has just been asked if he would lend out a valuable personal tool, and would rather not.

"I don't know. I would like something portable to be connected to the Internet with, and maybe to be able to write on it. Like a word processor. I'd do a lot of that. Writing."

"You don't want this, then."

But I do! Because of its splenditude. I said, okay. I don't want to write on it. That's the last thing I want to do. I want to do all the other things. What are they, exactly?

Follows a tutorial at warp speed in which I am introduced to someone called Siri and various images slide across the screen and flip about like zoo monkeys. It looked splendid. Abandoning all pride, I begged him to talk slower. It's possible he did, but I couldn't tell. Well! This particular device is forgey, I learn. I don't know what this means. Maybe it forges ahead. That's probably good. And also, you can store a cloud in it. I don't know why you'd want to, but it sounds splendid. Oh! It's not that you can store a cloud in it. It's that you can back up into a cloud.

That's never as much fun as you think it's going to be. My mind instantly detoured into a recollection of being a little kid and saying something to my dad about how neat it would be to sit down on a cloud. And he told me we could probably go into a cloud the next time we went to the mountains. We drove up to the Blue Ridge and sure enough there was a cloud parked up ahead, right on the road, and I got all excited, and then we drove into it, and it was not fluffy at all. I decided to ignore the bit about the cloud. The salesman was still going on about something and I still had the expression on my face appropriate to a person who is paying attention, and I think I was getting away with it. It seemed important to me to appear to be thinking thoughtful thoughts and taking in this high-speed information, but sooner or later the jig was going to have to be up, so I decided to just buy the damn thing and hope it would teach me how to use itself later.

"Uh-huh, uh-huh," I said, "so how much is this thing going to cost?"

Well. It depends. It depends on how many jeebies you want in it. Did I plan to watch a lot of movies on it? Did I plan to jam all the music I'd ever heard in my whole life into it? Not really. Again, I am not really sure what is going to happen between me and my new Device. Basically, we were going on a blind date.

"Well, you could probably do just fine with a couple of jeebies," he concludes. I thought so too. I probably wouldn't even be comfortable with a whole lot of jeebies. And I went with the little cute tabletty thing instead of the bigger one, because I am a small person. We were all set to go settle up, and then he offered to show me a selection of hats for it. I got a snap-on number. And took my new Device home, and set it on the counter, hoping it would be forgey enough to strike up a conversation.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

All Systems Are Go

The family company is cautiously optimistic today as word came that the grandnephew Oliver's shit production start-up, after a very productive two years, has begun preliminary work into transferring at least some operations directly to the potty chair. This expansion of the franchise is deemed feasible via a reduction in middle management, a move that both his parents strongly support. All systems appeared to be "go" and then word of the developments was leaked to the outside. At least something seemed to be leaking. I answered a knock at my door and discovered Ted Cruz and Rand Paul on the front porch. They were frowning.

We heard about your plans. Trust us on this. You do not want to be going in that direction. Not in the Obama economy.

What economy is that? The one in which housing starts have shown solid growth? No. The one in which unemployment is trending down? No. The one that caved in when the housing bubble burst and the financial sector grew at the expense of fairly compensated labor? No. The one in which wage growth has shown stubborn stagnation?

That's the one. And in times like these, the last thing you want to do is embark on any job-killing moves.

No one's killing anything. Oliver's doing a fine job. He's doing it in his pants at the moment, but digestive output is predicted to rise, and everyone in the company thought it would be wise to look into new distribution channels.

Which would result in the loss of jobs. His mother's, at least, and maybe even his father's, in your Democrat families. And diaper manufacturers. And the people who make those little stick-on air fresheners.

His folks are okay with that. They've got jobs. This just cuts down their hours a little. Kind of a quality-of-life issue.

This country was built by workers, not slackers. And frankly, we're concerned that you are so anxious to introduce an innocent child to the spirit-crushing nanny state at such an impressionable age. 


The Obamaline. The socialist waste management system. This is exactly how Hitler started.

The sewer line? We're fans of the sewer line. Really? Think of it as a pipeline. You love pipelines.

There's a difference between pipelines run with the commercial vigor of private equity and government-run socialist pipelines.

Seriously? Would you want private corporations to be in charge of the sewer system? Shouldn't it be a right to have your poop flushed away to a facility that safeguards the public health?

See, right there, dangerous concepts. Rights and public health. Next you're going to be saying the citizens have a right to water and food. And if the state is expected to be in charge of public health, there is no incentive for citizens to take care of themselves.

Well. I don't know. We're talking cholera and stsuff. Besides, you physically can't have competing networks of sewers running underground. There would be no competition among firms. A private, profit-motivated firm would be able to charge anything they wanted to make the shit go away.

You say "profit" as though it were a bad thing. Ma'am, that is the lifeblood of a strong economy. You're making our own case here.

I don't know. It can't be all socialist when Oliver is in charge of the means of production. And a lot of what Oliver has been producing was already being sent to the socialist sewer line anyway. This way we're only down-sizing the part that ended up in the landfill.

The landfill his parents have helped build, might we remind you, and that's no small thing. Listen. If we are to nurture strong citizens, we should not expect government to take care of everything. It fosters dependency. Everyone should take control of his own poop, and try to get it to roll downhill.

But someone always lives downhill.

And that's what's going to motivate them to better themselves. They never will if the state always steps in to prevent the shit from doing what it does naturally. And don't forget: all this shit is being made right here in the U S of A. And you were always complaining about outsourcing.

[pause for momentary flush of patriotic fervor]

And besides, in the case of something like cholera, the last thing you want to do is have a centralized system run by government bureaucrats. One in which any fecal contamination can be traced to an individual source, triggering the kind of invasive home inspections that are mandated under Obamacare.

What? That's not true.

Depends on how you define true. Anything gets true with enough repetition. Did you know that the amount of poop in the Obamaline is already subject to mandatory review by his Depth Panels? The whole socialist arrangement stinks. Every time you take a dump, you're thinking it's someone else that's going to make sure we don't get cholera. Always "someone else." Well, guess what? "Someone else" is you and me, sister, the taxpaying public.

I'm actually fine with...

We need to create an ownership society. And we can't do it if we keep expecting government to help us out. No. We must assume responsibility for our own poop. We can contract out for its removal by the private company of our choice, or just let the chips fall where they may, but in a free country we must not allow our shit choices to be compelled by the state.

I don't know. An awful lot of shit would pile up. Seems to me it's got to be dispersed somehow.

Leave that to us.