Solo Christmas Post

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been a slow month here at 3ws; I’ve been busy and, since my cohorts abandoned the place long ago (Lyta because blogging, she says, isn’t really her thing, and Beth because she can no longer afford to be associated online with someone like me who isn’t generally polite and uses really bad language – and who can blame her?), I’ve been a bit lax with posting.  But I couldn’t let the whole holiday season get by without at least one post, so below you’ll find a David Sedaris reading of 6 to 8 Black Men, which is his take on Christmas in the Netherlands.  It’s a long piece in 3 parts but thoroughly enjoyable, so I recommend clicking through to parts 2 and 3, which you’ll find below, when you’ve finished this one.

Just a word about the opening, though:  it concerns something that is now, sadly, topical to recent events, while at the same time highlighting some of the insanities of US gun laws.  I hadn’t remembered the story opening with this until I went to grab it for posting.  I’ll be putting up something else about the insanities of US gun laws later, but didn’t want that bit to come as a shock to anyone still feeling, as I am, a bit raw over what happened last Friday in Connecticut.

That having been said, enjoy the story.

Part 2:

Part 3:

The More Things Change….

October 16, 2012 6 comments

Having recently had a few dollars of expendable cash for the first time in quite a while, I indulged in my favorite habit – going to the bookstore and buying books which I could check out for free from the public library, were I responsible enough to return them on time or organized enough to get myself to said library during operating hours.  The library is only a mile away…but the bookstore is a mere five blocks from home, so it inevitably wins out every time, thanks not only to proximity but to the quirky way in which I choose my reading material, which is by browsing.  In the bookstore, things are arranged by what’s new, then by categories such as fiction, non-fiction, history, biography, natural sciences, etc.  Much easier to browse than stacks organized according to the Dewey decimal system.

Anyway, one of my selections this time was Passionate Minds by David Bodanis, about Voltaire and his long-time aristocratic mistress Emilie du Chatelet – a love affair animated by shared intellectual passions.  du Chatelet was an anomaly for the time – a woman motivated more by intellectual pursuits than fashion or court gossip, in an era where most women of the French aristocracy were uneducated, sometimes to the point of not even being able to write their own names.

Much of du Chatelet’s energy went into finding an appropriate male promoter or sponsor for her intellectual pursuits, which she finally found in Voltaire.  He was not her husband, of course, but adultery was the norm for the French aristocracy of the time and du Chatelet’s husband, having his own dalliances on the side, raised no objections. 

Her confidence boosted by her association with a man who truly respected her intellect, du Chatelet delved into explorations of Sir Issac Newton’s theory of gravity.  du Chatelet translated Newton’s calculations from the geometry he used as mathematical proofs for his theory into the new calculus, both verifying Newton and making his work more accessible to future generations of scientists.  She was also the first to theorize, correctly, that different colors of light in the spectrum had different temperatures, and among the first to recognize that light, as a substance, was composed of something other than mass.

What I found most interesting about the account, however, was not du Chatelet’s story, nor Voltaire’s, but the mise en scene in which their relationship played itself out.  This was the France of the last Louis’ – XIV, the Sun King; XV, who came to the throne at 5 years of age; and XVI, who left the throne a good foot shorter than when he assumed it.

I learned a few things I never knew, such as how different the aristocratic system was in France than it was in England.  This should have been long evident to me, since looking back on it now I was aware that France never had a Magna Carta.  As a result, the French aristocracy had both less power and more privilege in some ways than their English counterparts.  The king alone had the power to raise someone to the nobility.  Working was one of the quickest ways to lose a title; aristocrats were expected to do little or nothing.  Dabbling was acceptable, as was high military command, but working for a living was not.  Members of the aristocracy were not taxed – at all.  Taxes were quite literally, as Leona Helmsley once put it, “for the little people.”  Considering that France was during the period almost perpetually at war with other European powers, one can only imagine the tax burden that must have devolved upon those who actually did the work of the nation, and wonder that it took them so long to revolt.  Justice was similarly two-tiered; an aristocrat could – and often did – inflict violence upon a commoner without fear of reprisal.  The system was set up to make sure the privileged remained so, and the rest kept to their proper place.  Fairness entered into the scenario not at all.

If any of that sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s more or less the platform for one of our two major political parties.  We already know they’re down with the idea that the privileged shouldn’t be burdened with taxation, that those who actually do the work that produces wealth should also shoulder the burdens of funding government, including the cost of the world’s largest military, and that we have a similar two-tiered system of justice, in which the man who steals billions or sickens thousands escapes punishment, while the man who steals the contents of a cash register serves decades behind bars.

The great irony here is that the party that proposes to restore this old order is the same one that makes a big deal out of disdain for France.  Remember “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” and “freedom fries”?  It turns out that, contrary to Donald Rumsfeld’s dissing of “old Europe,” that’s the version they preferred.  It’s not “old Europe” or old France they have a problem with – it’s the new version, the post-revolutionary one, in which ordinary people no longer know and keep to their place as drudges whose only value is generating wealth for a bunch of layabouts.

In an interesting parallel, time-share billionaire David Siegal, who is building a replica of Versailles as his personal residence, just last week sent out a letter to his employees warning of the dire consequences to their future employment prospects should Barack Obama be re-elected.  This week, the billionaire Koch brothers followed suit.  Just reminding the ordinary folks to remember their place – as drudges whose only value is in making sure that billionaires remain billionaires.

Which leaves me thinking that maybe they should stop exclusively focusing on the France of the ancien regime, and perhaps pay just a bit more attention to what immediately followed it and brought it to an end.  As Louis XVI would no doubt tell them, the loss of a bit of your financial stature is nothing compared to the loss of a bit of your physical stature.

Schizophrenic State

September 29, 2012 5 comments

As those who know me have long known, and as most others have guessed from my nom de blog, I am a denizen of the great state of Arkansas, the butt of our national jokes and general, all-purpose whipping boy.  Trust me, a lot of that is deserved – look at our state rankings in education, health care, income, and any number of other measures, and it quickly becomes obvious that we don’t have our shit together.

But one thing has long irked me, and that’s the tendency of bloggers and others in the more-liberal-than-thou coastal areas to tar our state with the same reactionary brush they apply (correctly) to Texas, Mississippi, and other god-forsaken places.  While it’s true that Arkansas shares some regrettable traits with these places, including racism, general ignorance, and hyper-fundamentalist religiosity, it has a populist streak not found in those areas.  Note that I said “populist”, not “progressive.”  It’s merely coincidental that some of the things that happen here politically look like the latter to outsiders; they without exception are the result of the former.

Thanks to that widespread misunderstanding, for the past month national publications have ballyhooed Arkansas’ status as “the first Southern state” to put medical marijuana to the vote.  It’s true; the Compassionate Care Act will appear on our Nov. 6 ballot.  But the first mistake in this media meme is the assumption that Arkansas is part of a monolithic South, which it isn’t and never has been; error the second is in assuming that the development in any way indicates that progressivism is gaining purchase in Arkansas or in other areas of the old Confederacy.

The fact is, the initiative almost didn’t make it to the ballot as a result of several rejections of the ballot title language by the state’s Attorney General, an initial insufficient number of valid voter signatures on petitions, and a late Supreme Court challenge after the other hurdles had been cleared.  Along the way, state lawmakers weighed in with the opinion that the measure was proof of the need to “reform” the initiative process – a concern that none of them voiced in regard to a casino amendment put forward by a private individual which, had it made it to the ballot and passed, would have allowed said individual to write into the state constitution a monopoly for herself on all casinos in the state, as well as set her own preferred tax rate, free from the interference of meddling officials actually elected by the people of the state.  It’s good to know our elected representatives have their priorities straight.

The court challenge came, as might have been predicted, from one of several religious political groups operating in Arkansas who see their mission as making sure that the rest of us don’t do anything that they believe might make God mad; apparently their belief is that God gets pissed when people with debilitating illnesses experience less pain and discomfort.  God gave them that illness – they should welcome it!  It is His divine plan that the only relief should come from billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies.

The court challenge has actually been the most entertaining part of the whole story so far.  Jerry Cox, head of the Family Council and someone I know from personal experience to be a less-than-honest operator, announced his group’s intent to challenge the initiative, under the pretext that the ballot title didn’t explain to voters all the problems that states which have passed medical marijuana laws have experienced as a result.  I, who am not an attorney, thought “wow, that’s some weak sauce;  that can’t be what he’s planning on arguing to the court, because they don’t care about that – they only care about whether or not the ballot title accurately describes what the law will do.”  I assumed there was some other argument with actual legal grounding that would be made; as it happens, I was wrong.  In a very unusual move, the Court announced that they didn’t want to hear oral arguments from either side; I interpreted that as being an indication that either they didn’t intend to give Jerry Cox a soapbox or they intended to bend intepretation of the law to the breaking point in order to toss the initiative from the ballot.  As it turns out, it was the former reason – the court handed down their ruling on Thursday and noted that the ballot title language was “free of partisan coloring,” which was exactly what Cox and the Family Council were arguing was the reason it should be rejected – because it didn’t make their argument for them in the ballot title wording.

So now, it’s on to the election.  My prediction?  I think it’s going to pass.  The only polling done on the issue was back in May or June; at that time, 47% indicated support vs. 46% who were against.  As I joked to my sister, half the people in the state have a family member or friend who’s farming in the national forest, which in and of itself should be enough to put it over the top.  But in all seriousness, while that may be a small factor, the bigger reason is that people here simply don’t like being told what to do by outsiders.  The Attorney General’s insistence that the ballot title language include a reminder that marijuana is still illegal under federal law will, if anything, persuade some voters to vote in favor of the initiative.  The old bootlegger vs. federal revenooers attitude is still alive and thriving in large pockets of the state.  That attitude is a double-edged sword, to be sure:  it’s the same one that gave rise to the Central High crisis of 1957.  But it continues to exert an influence that makes the state politically schizophrenic and impossible to pin down.

The other reason I think this will pass is purely anecdotal – over the past several months, in general conversation with several people who I would not expect to be supportive of the initiative, I’ve been surprised time and again when they not only bring up the issue but volunteer that they’re planning on voting in favor of it.  These are mostly people over the age of 50, some of whom are regular church-going folks, which leads me to believe that if the undercurrent of support is that strong in this group, it’s going to pass.

Which means that after November, this will be a state in which same-sex marriage is prohibited by the state constitution, while medical marijiuana is legal – putting us a mere couple of years behind California, politically-culturally-speaking.  This will surprise no one who knows anything at all about the state – we sent the first woman to the US Senate way back in the 1930’s, then several decades later produced the fine specimen of a state legislator who coined the term “barefoot and pregnant.”  Obama is currently polling at about 35% here, while at the same time we have the only governor in the region – a Democrat re-elected in the Teabagger high-water-mark year of 2010 by a landslide – who has embraced the Medicaid expansion under his health care plan.

So the next time you’re tempted to lump us in with the lunatics in Texas, Mississippi, or Oklahoma, just….don’t.  We’re an island of sanity in comparison to the reactionary ignoramuses who surround us.  That’s a frightening thought, but we do get things right sometimes, though it’s for different reasons than you might expect.

Mitt Romney: Gormless Motherfucker

September 18, 2012 1 comment

Serendipitous coming so soon after my Labor Day observations:

Sounds like he’s channeling Australian mining heiress Gina Rinehart, doesn’t it?  If all you poors would just step up to the plate and pony up your fair share of the taxes (read:  at a higher rate than Rmoney pays) out of your paltry $20,000 per year earnings, then the noble Job Creators could catch a much-needed break on their taxes.

I can’t wait to see polling numbers at the end of this week.  It’s beginning to look a lot like a landslide.

Happy Parasites and Moochers Day

September 3, 2012 8 comments

For this, our country’s annual recognition of the contributions of working people (or as I like to call them, “wealth creators”), I thought I’d examine the current up-is-down understanding of economics by the average citizen – particularly the average self-described conservative citizen – and the entireity of the business media. 

My first thought was about how we have a Labor Day for honoring workers, but no Masters of the Universe Day for honoring our Galtian (aka “Job Creator”) overlords…then I was reminded of the question that most kids get around to asking their parents at one point or another, and the inevitable response they get in return:  “how come there’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day but there’s no Children’s Day?” which is usually answered with the universal response:  “that’s because every day is Children’s Day.”  And so it goes in our country and economy:  we spend one day of the year recognizing the people who actually do the work that generates the wealth, and the rest of the days lauding the people who profit from their labor and trying to help them profit even more.  But fear not; I’m sure in the near future Fox News will point out how heartless we’ve been for not setting aside a special day for recognizing the contributions of those who own us all, and will whip up the anger and rage of the barely sentient lifeforms who make up their viewing audience in favor of creating such a holiday.  It will be a working holiday of course; it would be just wrong to make it a paid day off.  In fact, it probably should be a day in which we all contribute our labor, free of pay, in gratitude to those who out of the goodness of their hearts “give” us jobs.

It wasn’t always so.  We’ve gone from a nation where, as recently as 40 years ago, an elected official wouldn’t dare insult workers by suggesting they were overpaid or otherwise a drag on national progress and productivity, to one where the ordinary people whose work creates the wealth of the nation are routinely insulted with the suggestion that they are superfluous.  Teachers and other public employees are regularly derided for what is described as overly-generous compensation and benefits plans, while at the same time the value of their work is given short shrift.  During the last few very difficult years, we’ve been treated more than once to claims by elected officials – who are, after all, our employees – that the unemployed are lazy and merely riding the dole, completely ignoring the reality that there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around – the result, in many cases, of these same public employees’ efforts to stymie economic recovery in order to bolster their own chances of electoral success.

The fact is, the history of our country, like the history of the rest of the world, is a history documenting the theft of labor.  Up until the 1860’s we were at least honest and forthright about it; no one, not even slaveowners themselves, was under any delusion that slavery didn’t constitute the theft of labor.  This theft isn’t unique to capitalist economic systems, either – the Soviets were every bit as guilty of stealing the labor of the many for the benefit of the few, and to make things worse, did so in a particularly heavy-handed way that brooked no objection or dissent.

In the past 40 years, labor theft has made a big comeback here in the US; not surprisingly, this has coincided with the erosion of the power of unions.  Lest you think the term “labor theft” is being overly dramatic, consider the following:  at this point in time, the six members of the Walton family, heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune built by founders Sam and Bud Walton, have a net worth equal to that of the poorest 41% of Americans.  That kind of discrepancy can only occur when people are not being fairly compensated for their labor, and in fact, we know this is what is going on with Wal-Mart:  the company is rabidly anti-union and regularly uses tricks such as the 35-hour workweek to avoid paying for health insurance for workers; it relies on slave and near-slave labor overseas for producing products at the lowest possible cost to stock its stores; it’s been caught red-handed breaking minimum-wage and other labor laws, particularly when dealing with illegal workers; and it shamelessly offloads the consequences of underpaying its workers onto federal, state, and local governments, going so far as to hold seminars to instruct workers on how to apply and qualify for food stamps, Medicaid, and other programs that we all pay for.  Wal-Mart isn’t alone in these practices, either – the majority of profitable chain businesses in the US are also underpaying their workers.  It’s just that Wal-Mart offers such a glaring example of why all the whining about how put-upon the so-called “job creators” are is such patent bullshit.  Seriously, is it possible that these 6 people contribute more to the country’s GDP than the 41% of Americans whose net worth their fortunes exceed?  Not a chance.  And that’s before we even consider that these folks are the heirs of the men who actually had the bright idea and built the company.  No, the heirs didn’t build that – so why should it be priority number one in this country to make sure they not only get to keep it all, but that we make it even easier to help them get even more?

As I’ve noted before, a capitalist economy is kind of like a huge poker game – it can only keep going as long as more than one player has some scratch in the game.  It also mimicks a poker game in the tendency for most of the wealth, over time, to accumulate into just a few hands.  When that happens, it’s game over.

None of this is to say that there’s anything wrong with a business owner generating some profit from the labor of his employees.  That is, after all, the whole idea behind capitalism.  The question is, how much of that profit should go to the owner?  The truism that one of our political parties, most of our wealthy citizens, and the entire business media would like for us to ignore is that no one has ever become a billionaire through his own labor alone.  Wealthy people become wealthy as a result of how successful they are in profiting from the labor of others.  Sometimes, they have a good idea, which coupled with the labor of others, generates great wealth for them.  And oftentimes, they just are good at profiting from other people’s labor.  In the 2000’s, we saw productivity gains of 20% in the US, none of which went to workers, who were, after all, the primary generators of those gains.  And so we find ourselves today in a position where 6 people are worth more than 41% of our citizenry – 6 people who didn’t “build that” but rather, inherited it.

Government has only two ways to slow down the corrosive concentration of wealth that spells stagnation for a capitalist economy.  One is mandating higher minimum wages, and the other is higher taxation on great wealth.  For the past 30 years, one of our political parties has dedicated itself to blocking both of those mechanisms, and today we are living with the results.  Rather than face the reality, however, they retreat further and further into fantasies about “job creators,” ignoring that most basic economic rule of supply and demand – jobs are only created when there is a demand for the goods or services they produce; they are not created out of the goodness of some multi-millionaire or billionaire’s heart, because spending money on hiring workers to do work for which there is no demand is roughly equivalent to setting the money on fire.  Our economy sucks because too many people have too little money to drive the demand necessary for full employment; they have too little money because too few people are hoarding most of it.

I have recently had an epiphany, in which it occured to me that in this era of grotesque wealth for the few and growing poverty for the many, one of the most popular shows on television focuses on people who have a mental illness that causes them to hold on to physical objects for which they have no need or use.  Millions tune in to tsk-tsk these poor, obviously ill individuals who live in houses stuffed with garbage, and then turn the channel to watch other individuals who do things like spend $100,000 on handbags, who they envy and wish to emulate.  But how is one any different than the other?  If hoarding is an illness marked by an inability to let go of anything and a desire to accumulate ever more, whether it is needed or useful or not, how is it any different to feel that $500 million, $1 billion, $5 billion, or $20 billion isn’t enough?  Sure, the money hoarders aren’t living in garbage dumps, but isn’t the irrational need to continue accumulating more than you need or can ever use the same?  The man, or woman, with a billion dollars could lose half of it today and it would change the way they live not one iota.  So why do they fight so hard, and so dirty, for even more, at the expense of the people who have generated that wealth for them?

It will be a great day when we as a nation wake up and recognize wealth hoarding as an illness rather than a goal to emulate.  In the meantime, would it be too much to insist that our national policy not be driven by the mental illness of a handful of people for whom even “all of it” would not be enough?

I’ll close my Labor Day rant, which might at first glance seem to have wandered a bit far afield, with this news item in which Australian mining heiress Gina Rinehart, one of the richest women in the world worth some $20 billion, complains bitterly about “class warfare” – not, of course, the warfare she and her peers have engaged in, but the “warfare” that results when the proles who made her wealthy question how the pie is being divvied up – and suggests the following: 

 “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she writes. “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working.”

Got that?  The heiress, who didn’t “build that,” thinks the reason all you poors aren’t rich like her is because you’re laying about drinking.  Looking at her, I can’t help but think it has yet to occur to her that perhaps she could spend less time eating.  But I digress.  Rinehart goes on to elaborate what’s wrong with Australia, and it’s strikingly similar to what Mitt Romney is telling us is wrong with America:  rich people pay too much taxes, businesses are regulated to make sure they follow the rules, and poor people make too much money (the Australian minimum wage is about equivalent to the US minimum wage).  She goes on to issue the same veiled threats we hear whenever our own MOTU are in danger of paying a few percent more in taxes:  if you tax us, it will only hurt you, because it won’t be worth it anymore for us to continue to try to make scads of cash.

And this is where we bring it back home:  when we recognize that these people suffer from a mental illness, we can stop worrying about their idle threats to “go Galt,” to take their fortunes and “screw you guys, I’m goin’ HOME.”  They can’t do it; their illness won’t allow it.  They must have more; they live for more.  Making it a little harder for them to get it won’t stop them; it will merely insure that the rest of us don’t suffer as much as result of their illness.

So that’s my wish for this Labor Day – that people will wake up and recognize that the idle threats of the wealthy are exactly that; that they need us more than we need them; and that we will stop allowing a bunch of mentally ill people to dictate economic, tax, and labor policy.  It’s a tall order, but not one that would be all that difficult to fill.  All it takes is for us to recognize our own power – we are the source of their wealth – and their weakness – enough will never be enough.

Update:  In the truth is stranger than fiction department, it seems my suggestion for Fox News to rile up the mouth-breathers was scooped by this essay in today’s Wall Street Journal.  However, after reading through it and noticing that the author is a retired labor and employment attorney, I have a sneaking suspicion that the WSJ just got trolled, and like their brain-dead brethren who have yet to figure out that Stephen Colbert is a parody of a Fox News host, it completely eluded them that the author was being tongue-in-cheek.  

h/t to commenter RSA at Balloon Juice for the link.

Hello, Danny

August 26, 2012 2 comments

Found and shared by my wonderful and talented nephew Trevor, who turned 13 yesterday:

The only thing that would make it better would be if there was also an “after” pic, with the ax.

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Annals of Bad Art

August 22, 2012 5 comments

Recently an amateur artist tried her hand at restoring a century-old painting on a church column in Spain.  The pictures below show the results of her attempt:

Over the years, the work began to deteriorate, as shown in the second image. According to the Centre de Estudios Borjanos, the unnamed amateur artist (without permission from the church, needless to say) thought she could improve the work and set to work with paints and brushes. The third picture is the result.

But wait…here comes the good part:

The BBC Europe correspondent described the painting’s current state as resembling “a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic.”

This reminded me of a classic from back in my college days, a book called Thrift Store Paintings by Jim Shaw.  Thanks to Shaw’s deadpan descriptive titling of the works, I was able to find the book again on amazon, by googling the memorable title of one of the works, seen below:

Man With No Crotch Sits Down With Girl

These works are bad, but at least they’re fun.  I would consider hanging some of these in my house.  Not so for our third subject, the Thomas Kinkade of the teabagger set, Jon McNaughton:

This is titled The Empowered Man, because as you can see, Joe Sixpack has just wrestled the sacred Constitution from the evil clutches of Black Hitler, as previous socialist presidents look on in alarm, while True Patriots™ (standing behind the man on his right, natch) applaud.  This is from what McNaughton calls his “Patriotic” gallery; noted art expert Sean Hannity claims to be a collector of these fine works, which include others showing Black Hitler setting the Constitution on fire, standing on the Constitution, being showered with money while an audience in chains looks on, and etc.  Dude’s about as subtle as a sledge hammer; in one painting he’s got Kim Jong Il standing in the background behind the Kenyan Usurper.  His technical painting ability surpasses that of the two previous subjects, but not by all that much – check out the kneeling, praying man in the image above.  I think that’s supposed to be James Madison, but it looks more like Newt Gingrich Antonin Scalia in a wig to me, or maybe some TV preacher.  Also note how he’s placed Dubya in with all the socialists (though he has given him the bloat appropriate for a guy who’s back on the sauce).

His other stuff ain’t much better.  He reveals himself to be a member of the Kinkade school with his “cottages” collection and his “temples” collection (yes, he is a Mormon).  Maybe on Kolob this shit is recognized as fine art, but here on Earth, it’s just shit, and the people who buy it deserve to be fleeced even more than the people who bought Thomas Kinkade’s hobbit fantasy crap.  At least Kinkade redeemed himself somewhat by pissing on Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland.  It just makes me happy knowing that Sean Hannity is one of the rubes he’s fleeced, though of course Hannity lacks the self-awareness to recognize he revealed himself as a hayseed by publicly proclaiming his enthusiasm for this crap.

I’ll take hairy monkeys in ill-fitting tunics any day.

Addition to the Family

August 21, 2012 4 comments

This is my new grandniece, Aurianna Grace, who arrived two weeks ago weighing 6 lbs, 10 oz:

Even though, as I regularly point out, this is a family blog, I’m not in the habit of posting anything related to family or my private life anywhere online…I’m just putting this up so Beth can see how much this child looks like her great-grandfather.

Also, I’m not sure about the whole “Aurianna” thing – my niece has followed the modern-day tradition of giving her child an unusual name with an even more unusual spelling.  I think I’m on board with my nephew, who plans on calling her “Gracie,” much to his sister’s disdain.

Anyway, welcome to the world Gracie!  May you live long and prosper.

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The Asteroid Can’t Come Soon Enough

August 4, 2012 5 comments

New TV series, Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo,  premieres on TLC (The “Learning” Channel) this week:

One wonders what we’re supposed to be “learning” from this “learning channel” – or as George W. Bush once said, “Is our children learning?”  If they’re watching TLC, apparently they’re learning about rednecks.  Other current offerings on the channel include “I’m Pregnant at the Same Time as My Teen,” and “American Gypsies.”  Not too long ago, TLC was the midgets and fat people channel, now they’re going full-on white trash.  About the only good thing I can find to say about this is:  thank god these people aren’t from Arkansas; the Duggars (another TLC “learning” opportunity) are enough of an embarrassment for one state.  Sad to say, Beth and Lyta, but these fine specimens are your own – they hail from the great state of Georgia.

Don’t you love how the clip says, “you’ve met Honey Boo-Boo; now meet her family!”  Really?  Do we HAVE to?  I think I could have lived out the rest of my days without seeing a bunch of derping rednecks playing with their belly fat for the cameras.

Another thing from the video clip above that is amusing, in a sick sort of way, is the argument they have about whether or not they’re rednecks.  One of the girls claims they’re not because “we have our TEEF don’t we” (protip:  if you call them TEEF, you might be a redneck), but as you can see in the photo below, no, they not only don’t have all their TEEF, they don’t have all their TEETH, either.  Check out dad “Sugar Bear” in the lower right corner – he seems to be missing a few in the front:

From the blessedly limited amount of “research” I’ve done on the topic, apparently “Sugar Bear” is a chalk miner.  I did not know such a profession existed, though I suppose it’s an appropriately Dickensian occupation for the husband of a 400 pound “Coupon Queen” who enters her child into beauty pageants and dopes her up with a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull to give her an energy boost before she goes on stage.

Seriously folks, it’s all over but the crying.  America had a good run and we should just content ourselves with having made it through almost 250 years before the whole thing fell apart.

Happy birthday, dear Jaffner!

July 18, 2012 1 comment

We’ve devolved into nothing more than long-distance birthday wishes. A sad state of affairs. Perhaps this will cheer you up.

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