Aug 27, 2013

A New Tipping Point?

Unconfirmed WMD? UN Weapons inspectors getting the run around? A red line crossed? Brutal sectarian civil war that is bound to cause all the gulf states, Iran, NATO and Russia to become involved... You know, I think I've seen that movie? It didn't end well for anyone, why would I see the sequel?

Iran and Syria just "warned" the West that if they go in militarily, they'll attack Israel. Now, I'm not worried about Israel holding their own in this - I'm worried about, oh, how about nothing short of WWIII...

I'm kind of looking around to see if there's a fat man planning a parade - yeah kids, Franz Ferdinand isn't just a cute name for an indie band.

But did you see what that little Miley Cyrus was wearing? Yes, but did you see how she was simulating a *gasp* sex act? She used to be in the employ of the Walt Disney corporation! Yes, it is ironic that Music Television doesn't actually play music videos anymore... and that they're still handing out meaningless awards for music video production... with a Neil Armstrong trophy? Yeah, that's from a network bumper from the early eighties. You're right, that doesn't make much sense either, does it? Then or now?

Oh, sorry, we were talking about something important? Let me reset the track.

I mean, there's humor in the Hypocrite of the Week John Kerry stating that proof of chemical attacks being gathered by the UN doesn't matter. He sure laid into Bush about not proving something involving a war. Fairly sure he threw a party when the opposing party couldn't find any - and let's not forget how John Kerry’s Senate career began with a bang when he traveled to Nicaragua to obstruct President Reagan’s policy of arming the anti-Communist Contra rebels. Now Secretary of State John Kerry is taking part in arming the Free Syrian Army rebel allies of Al Qaeda and pawns of the Muslim Brotherhood....

Which, I suppose wouldn't be so awful if he hadn't said that America shouldn't subvert it's values, "by funding terrorism to overthrow governments of other countries”.[Source from 2004 Presidential Election]

Mix well, and stand back - this party is about blow!
I guess he had a change of heart? Maybe the anti-war party has decided to become the war party but forgot to tell anyone on Meet The Press? After all, we've always been at war with ... uh, remind me which one of the other Gulf States gave Saudi Arabia a dirty look last week? No, that's not waffling. It's, a, er, pivot. That's it! Pivot!

Now, don't worry. Mr. Obama built in a loop hole to his Red Line comment by saying "a whole bunch" He didn't actually say to Assad that we're going to unleash hell upon you for crimes against all of humanity, or we'll take out your whole air force as retribution and give the rebels a fair playing field, (like we did in Libya) or we're going to have Seal Team 6 cause an immediate regime change and end this civil war today...

No, he said,
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” the president said a year ago last week. “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

His calculus? Is this a math problem on a spreadsheet? Well, okay? But did last week's use of (still unconfirmed) WMD's constitute "a whole bunch?" -- or are we just going to pull out Bill Clinton's playbook (again) and try to treat this like Kosovo? Then let the Hague sort it out when they're all old men after a couple decades of appeals?

To be fair, there have been other warnings issued too - Russia and China have come out to warn the West to keep out of it...  Russia even went so far as to add "the West is acting like monkey with a hand grenade..."  Maybe there's a bit of impiousness to the truth in that statement, since Assad is one of Russia's favorite customers... but it's not bad advice.

Either way, you either do nothing and lose more credibility with the rebels you're backing and with the world in general for making stupid useless red line statements, or you get involved in yet another quagmire in the region that could easily spiral into a toilet hole worse than the first world war.

Frankly, I think I understand why everyone would rather talk about a 21 year old-child-fading-star dragging herself back into the national spotlight by wearing latex and sticking her tongue out more than Gene Simmons, while "performing" at an irrelevant cable awards program.

...Least until football starts up again.

Aug 21, 2013

Darn Swallow

posted by killre

It was to have been a quiet evening at home.  I had just finished watering the front yard and decided to let the dog out back because she'd been cooped inside for a while.  I've no idea what breed she is.  When I asked my crack research staff, they told me to measure her height "till her weathers."  I said, "First of all it's 'til.  Secondly it isn't 'til, it's to, and thirdly it's withers, you Yahoos.  Go back to researching crack."

Whatever the breed, she is a lithe, long-legged creature with a loving nature, a child's sense of wonder, perky ears the size of satellite dishes and very little concept of the playful pain and damage she is capable of inflicting upon persons or property.  One of her favorite pastimes is tearing up my back yard, which is one reason why I was keeping a close eye on her while she wasted little time doing some watering of her own.

Overhead, two birds darted and looped about each other in an avian version of "First One Back to the Hayloft Gets to Be on Top."  They had the same basic silhouette as blue jays, with long, square-cornered, plankish tails.  They possessed only two-thirds of that screaming meanie of a species' heft and attitude, however, and the coloring was decidedly different: a gentle brown with black piping on the back and a dingy white undercarriage.  When I asked my crack staff, one of them said, "Uh... whew... s-s-s-some kinda swallow, maybe?"

Whatever kinda swallow maybe, one of the birds apparently cared even less than the other did about getting back to the hayloft first.  It broke off a series of loops to light upon the ground near my fence and proceeded to hop along through the grass-- looking, no doubt, for a quick snack.  The dog, more curious than territorial, quickly covered the distance on her imperial walker legs.  The bird, looking elsewhere, didn't see her coming 'til too late.  It was cornered between the high wooden fence and the flowerbed, which is encased in bricks stacked about a foot and a half high and anchored at one end by a towering rosebush.

So secluded is that corner, in fact, that I never saw exactly what happened there.  The dog went in, there was an alarming series of chirps, then the bird came fluttering out in a flat spin that never quite reached twelve inches of altitude.  It frisbeed across the patio 'til it found itself in another corner.  The dog followed, tail a-wag.  Above us, the kinda swallow's mate let out a string of chirps that were louder than any bird that size has a right to make, given the lung capacity, and started making a desperate series of those flared-wing, side-to-side, hey-look-at-me-I'm-the-one-who's-injured maneuvers.

I roared the dog's name --it is an embarrassing moniker, bestowed by my daughter, and even if you were to promise to somehow get "Show off your Impiousness" changed to "Show your impiety," I would still refuse to reveal it here-- followed by the command, "NO!"  She backed off about six feet, tail literally wagging the dog, looked at me, looked at the bird, looked at me, looked at the bird.  I strode to the patio door, slid it open, snapped my fingers and said, "Get in the house!"

It isn't that the dog has less comprehension of get in the house than she does of no.  Surprisingly, it isn't even a matter of the dog taking the principled stance that get into the house would be more proper.  It's that she knew get in the house was less imperative than no.  Besides, this was the most fun she'd had all week.  She wasn't sure if that cheeping thing in the corner was a new toy or a new playmate, but she wanted more than anything to find out.

I went quickly to my cache of doggie treats.  I neglected to tell the dog, "Stay," but I doubt it would've mattered.  I figure she waited all of three heartbeats --which by now were coming quickly for everyone involved-- before moving in on the bird.  I returned just in time to have the kinda swallow miss my shin by the breadth of a feather and skitter across the patio... right through the still-open sliding door into the house.  The dog trotted merrily after.  I looked at the treat in my hand, blinked, heaved a sigh, hung my head and followed.

The bird made a hard left turn just beyond the pots-and-pans cabinet, skipped through the kitchen like Armstrong and Aldrin, passed the nook where I am now relating these events to you and finally settled in a cubby hole formed by a coffee table book of Shel Silverstein sketches leaning against a spavined box of outdated printer paper.  The dog, fascinated, followed every bounce and veer.

Great.  I had a wild animal in my house: cornered, injured, terrified, with nasty-looking claws, a sharp beak and a quickness I might fool myself into thinking I possessed when I was younger, but certainly not now.  On top of that, I've always had a low threshold for icky.

It took the better part of ten minutes to drag the dog into a bedroom and shut the door so I could deal with the bird without interference.  Like the antagonist in the story of Noah's ark --and just to be abundantly clear, by antagonist I mean God-- I have a softer spot in my heart for most animals than I do for most humans (although it should be pointed out there were more homo sapiens on that boat than there were of any other species).  I'd ask you to forgive the impiety of that attitude, but apparently we don't use that word around here.  Still, I wanted that bird out of my house... and I wanted it done without having to touch it.  There are people in this world who handle birds all the time.  Not only am I not one of them, I have never wanted to be.  I considered calling Animal Control, but it was now 7:30 in the p.m., and even if I could get hold of somebody, and even if they didn't laugh me off the phone for being afraid of a little bird, they weren't going to come out and deal with it that night.

Time for some rugged individualism.  I took a few minutes to breathe and formulate a plan.  I took a few more because I didn't want to go through with it.  Meanwhile the dog, who suffers from separation anxiety, uncorked a ululating wail that had just the right harmonics to rattle windows and cause temporary blindness.  I took a few more minutes, making sure not only of the plan, but of the contingencies.

I donned a beige baseball cap that advertises a hunting and fishing lodge in northern Ontario --the closest thing I have to a hardhat-- and a pair of thick work gloves, all the while wishing I'd played catcher at some point in my life and still had the gear.  I also grabbed a fireplace poker and a cardboard box.  While roomy enough to transport a bird fifty feet to the great outdoors, its lid was of the four-folding-leaf variety.  What I really needed was a box with a fitted lid, like a shoebox or, heh, the spavined box of printer paper the kinda swallow was currently snuggling up to.

I used the poker to gently move Shel Silverstein.  The bird let out a chirp and twisted about an inch.  I let out a womanly shriek and jumped three feet.  It took five minutes for my skin to catch up with me.  By then I could hear the dog churning away at the carpet, trying to tunnel under the bedroom door.  I looked at the bird.  At the very least, my dog had shorn it of tail feathers.  It was probably a goner, but I still didn't want to be the entity that ended it.  Like a fool, I tried to reassure the damned thing: telling it suavely that I didn't want to hurt it, I was just going to take it back outside.  I don't think it believed me.  I took a deep breath and moved in... and the phone rang.  I only jumped a foot and a half.  (The call, it turned out, was from One F-- a fellow contributor to this site.)  I missed the call because I was afraid my heart couldn't take the exertion of lifting the receiver.

In the end I abandoned the cardboard box in favor of clapping a sizeable saucepan over the bird and sliding a wafer-thin plastic cutting board under it.  The kinda swallow probably had to do a double hotfoot, like a batter jump-roping an inside pitch in the dirt, but by then I had sacked up enough to not care overly much.  I released it into its natural habitat.  It hopped across the yard and under a bush and started chirping.  Its mate came along and sat atop the fence.  The two of them had a rather lengthy conversation.  What they ultimately decided I couldn't say.

Surprisingly, there was but one small and blessedly firm sample of bird-type-feces in the now deconstructed cubby hole.  I used, like, six layered paper towels and the souvenir glove from a Breaking Bad haz-mat suit to remove it.

P.S.... Bud "As a Connoisseur of Such Things, I Prefer a Thumbing of the Nose to a Flipping of the Bird" Selig must go.

Aug 19, 2013


im·pi·ous (m-ps, mp-)


1. Lacking reverence; not pious.

2. Lacking due respect or dutifulness

[From Latin impius : in-, not; see in-1 + pius, dutiful.]

impi·ous·ly adv.
impi·ous·ness n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

It has come to my attention that one contributor, albiet, founding member of this here unrighteous blog, has questioned the use of a word in our T-Shirt campaign.

Now, let's be clear - this word has been hovering above the T-shirt link for the past 3 or 4 years now. Nevermind that not a single T-Shirt has ever been sold or even clicked through in the last 2 years. Perhaps the price point is too high, or the shame of associating with aforementioned blog would be only slightly less humiliating than wearing an Alfred E. Newman shirt?

Apparently, it is not that the T-Shirt is "ugly" or that the wearer will be instantly mocked and potentially road-hauled if worn South of the Mason-Dixon Line (which, fun fact, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were amateur surveyors in the resolution of a border dispute between the British colonies. They created a demarcation line, which formed the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and (eventually) West Virginia. The reason there's a West Virginia and not just Virginia is a larger story that the Mason-Dixon line helped forge. And to further the fun, Mason and Dixon were aslo very influential in discovering the weigh the earth.)

In agreement that the word "Impiousness" may not have been the best choice of the word... offering a solution - Perhaps "Im-pi-ou-T" would have been more clever and perhaps we could boost our sales? Boost, that is, from us owing one to OneF, to perhaps selling one or two of them?

If we can halt the lament of copy choice made in the early days of 2007, perhaps we would have more luck selling T-Shirts? Perhaps I could re-design the T-Shirts, and find a new supplier that's 1/4 the cost. Yes, putting more children on the job in a South Asian country seems like a good idea that Milton Freedman would get behind - as long as it's not *your* children working at the mill, your country is elevated, and if the children in some forsaken sweat factory make it out alive, so will theirs!

Perhaps, just perhaps, one founder could have bemoaned his displeasure of the copy choice before, or maybe immediately following the word choice was chosen. But waiting, until now... 2013... to make his opinion heard - and so publicly....

Conceivably, the founding member just hadn't been on this site since then, and once leaving his Rip Van Wrinkle slumber to make a few posts?

Imaginably - this founding member had forgotten his password, and now is trying to make up for lost time?

In other words, welcome back, Killre.

Knock the Tote

posted by killre

I am a fraudulent voter.

It wasn't at all hard to do.  In fact, I fell into it quite by accident.

As a former holder of a Class A license with a certification to transport hazardous materials (a certification that for some reason is referred to as an endorsement), there was a period of my life when I had to spend more time at the local branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles than anyone who (a) didn't work there or (b) couldn't for all their trying find some way of passing their examination.  (I once met an ordinary Jose who was taking his exam for the seventeenth time.  He failed, but he was proud of coming closer to scraping by than ever before.)

The reason I had to make such regular appearances is the DMV's policy regarding the written exams for the shipping of hazardous materials: the tests are guarded mongo jealously and those who wish to re-up their endorsement must do so in person and approximately two and a half times more frequently than a normal person renews their normal license.  While this policy is the proverbial prominent pain in my own personal, pronounced posterior, I recognize the good sense in it.  You probably don't like the thought of the men and women who operate those seventeen-to-forty ton big rigs on your local highways and byways cheating on any of their tests, but if there was one exam on which you would least like them to, uh, cut corners, it is probably the one about handling up to twenty-three tons of haz-mat.

Incidentally, here are two disturbing facts about the transport of hazardous materials that you may or may not know...

1.  One thousand pounds (or more) of any kind of haz-mat is required by law to be advertised.  That is to say the vehicle in which it is being shipped --a semi-trailer, for example-- must show an officially designed, diamond-shaped placard on all four sides.  Nine hundred ninety-nine pounds of the same material (except explosives) is not only not required to be placarded, it is legally forbidden to be.

2.  Twenty tons of, say, antifreeze in fifty-gallon barrels is haz-mat.  Twenty tons of antifreeze in one-gallon jugs is not.

So anyway... One day some years ago I was at the DMV, where, as it turned out, one could not only renew one's driver's license, one could register to vote.  You should brace yourself about now, lest you be shocked when I tell you that I actually had as much as ninety-seven seconds or so of free time while I waited for my number to be called.  I decided to use it filling out (filling in?) a voter registration card.  I used my quite real and quite legal surname, first name and middle initial.  Then I did whatever one did in those days to see to it that the card reached the Proper Authorities and almost immediately set my mind to not giving it much more thought.

So little thought did I give it, in fact, that when I again found myself at the DMV some sizeable chunk of time later, again with a sizeable chunk of time to kill (I know; I can't explain it, either), I again filled in (filled out?) a voter registration... not so much because I couldn't remember doing it before as because I wasn't sure for how long the first one was valid-- a freely admitted failure on my part to read the fine print.  This time, it took me ninety-eight seconds because I used my quite real and quite legal surname, first name and full middle name: a spur-of-the-moment decision, nothing more.

It wasn't until about the third time I had received two jury summons within a couple months of each other that I decided to compare them.  Apparently, two of me living at the same address had raised no red flags at the local Superior Court.  Since the rolodex of dutiful citizens for that noble calling is lifted directly from the county's list of registered voters, I could only assume there were also two of me eligible to vote.  (I can't help but wonder, believer in fairy tales that I am, if there wasn't somebody somewhere who actually did notice that there were apparently two people with very similar names living in the same house, and if so, what rationalization they constructed for themselves to explain it.)

Another sizeable chunk of time went by before our nation's last Election Day.  By then I had applied for and received permanent absentee-voter status (albeit under just one name), since I was still spending roughly 85% of my time on the road --just one inflamed disc in the backbone of the American economy, which is why I had been able to tell it was already suffering the onset of osteoporosis long before any of the hot air buffoons in Washington deigned to take notice-- and besides, I had delusions of actually putting some research into the boxes I was being asked to check.  After all, how am I supposed to know off the top of my head whether the Hon. Ms. Wutzername is more deserving of a particular seat on a particular bench than Mr. Widget, Esq.?  By quickly glancing at my watch and voting according to whether the digit was odd or even?  That is precisely why the Founding Fathers were so leery of democracy, although they failed to foresee the day when balloting for national office would actually be easier for the unwashed masses than deciding who should be Commissioner of District Water Management.

I had in due course received my absentee ballot and its accompanying return envelope and had duly tossed them upon the pile of Things To Do Later.  I am an All-pro crastinator.  I even won an award for it once, but I have yet to gin up the gumption to collect it.  The ballot languished in that ever-growing file of Things That Are Important But Not, You Know, That Important until it was past its mail-in date.  No matter.  By serendipity, I happened to be in town on Election Day and decided to appear in person at my local polling place.  I gave them my name --I forget which one-- and address and they immediately expressed consternation.  I was registered, after all, as a permanent absentee voter.  I was not supposed to vote in person.

I considered giving them my other name, whichever one it was.  I also considered shrugging and saying, "My bad," and leaving.  According to the 2010 Census, my tally is worth about 0.00039 percent of an Electoral Vote anyway (based on a 50% turnout), which unless you are a fellow resident of Californ-i-a, is demonstrably less than yours.  Before I could speak, though, they told me I could fill out a provisional ballot.  I reached for my wallet and asked if I needed to show some I.D....

They said no.

Now I was the one who was consternated, if that's even a word.  I lean left in many, if not most, of my attitudes, but voter I.D. is not one of them.  Oh, I don't disbelieve there are people for whom voting is, like, the only reason they will ever have for possessing photographic identification, nor do I fail to understand the process of getting one can be as much fun as, heh, a root canal and seem every bit as possible at times as traversing two hundred yards of muskeg with an eighty-pound pack on one's back... but the idea that somebody, anybody, can simply stroll into a polling place, utter a likely local name and address, glance at their watch and start checking boxes is one that appalls me.  So I support voter I.D.... so long as it's free and non-exclusive.

I began this by saying, "I am a fraudulent voter."  Strictly speaking, that isn't true.  I did not, nor have I ever, engaged in the impiety of voting twice in one election.  I'm only about fifty percent sure I could do so with, um, impunity.  Besides, it would only count as 0.00078 percent of an Electoral Vote... which might still be less than you.

P.S.... Bud "Things That Are Unimportant Until They Happen: Shattered Bats Killing People" Selig must go.

Aug 17, 2013

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

posted by killre

One minor reason why the days of August seem so damnably dogish is that America's pantheon of television networks, with but few notable exceptions, are vomiting forth for our consumption previously digested tripe-- some of which was only marginally satisfying the first time around and certainly tastes no better now.

Normally, this stomach flu of a phenomenon would pass without much comment, but the other day I noticed the bug had affected a niche in the broadcast spectrum that one would at first blush think immune: cable news.  Of course, cable news for the most part isn't about news; it's about politics.  As such, it sails or founders subject to the hot wind emanating from politicians-- most of whom have flown the foul-smelling chicken coop known as Washington, D.C. for their summer vay-kays, leaving the business of running the beehive to the nameless drones who actually do the thankless day-to-day rather than simply talking about it.  (All the talkers being gone is, I'm sure, a vacation of sorts for the drones.)

It is for this reason that the de facto face and voice (for better or worse) of MSNBC, one Christopher John Mathews, has taken his own much-needed respite to get his head straight and turned over his two hundred-odd minutes of original programing per week to Michael Smerconish.  Smerconish's primary job is keeping Mathews' chair warm so his puffy posterior doesn't go into shock when he returns from whichever National Park he will proudly tell us he just visited.  Smerconish's secondary job seems to be regurgitating all the still-unresolved political issues from the past couple of years that are, they assure you, Pressing Concerns, though not so pressing they can't be put in a holding pattern for a few weeks while our elected representatives work on their tans.

All of that is why on Thursday we were treated to a four-month-old clip of Congressman Joe Barton, a Republican from the grate state of Texas, saying the following during a congressional committee hearing on climate change:

"I would point out that if you're a believer in the Bible, uh, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change... and that certainly wudn't a-cuz mankind had overdeveloped, uh, hydrocarbon energy."

You need not consult polling data to know most congress-type-persons are not as highly regarded as we would like them to be.  One reason for that might be the use of phrases like "if you're a believer in the Bible" in the middle of a scientific discussion.  Another reason might be the way they lean smirkingly toward microphones and utter things like "wudn't a-cuz."

Actually, the above quote represents an, heh, evolution on the part of the Republican party from their original stance on climate change.  While they still won't call it "global warming," they have at least realized that flat-out denying it is akin to two men at a cookout seeing the thermometer tick from 80 to 81 and one of them stating, "That didn't happen."  Now their argument is, "Okay, it happened, but it isn't because the thermometer is right next to the grill."

Most people would look at the clause "if you're a believer in the Bible" and say the operative word is if, and I can't tell them they're wrong.  The yes/no nature of if, however, is too simple for my purposes.  I choose instead to focus on the word believe, because when belief is the discussion the inherent questions go from "Yes or no?" to "What?" and "How much?"

I believe, for starters, that the Bible exists.  Does that count as believing in the Bible?

I believe that the Bible is not A book; it is an anthology:  a treasure trove of many ancient writings --most, but certainly not all, theological in nature-- written by many different authors over the course of many years... sort of like an ancient Norton Anthology of American Literature (third edition shorter), but substitute "Hebrew and Greek" for "American" and "Saint Paul" for "Norton."

Whereas Norton has eight editors, the Bible has an incalculable number of editors, translators, transcribers, canonical councils, et cetera, each of whom in some small way contributed to the hue of the final product, as if each one dropped a tiny bead of colored paint into an oversized vat of flat white.  Norton checks in at over 2600 pages while the Bible describes Armageddon somewhere shy of 1400, but to be fair the Bible uses smaller-sized type and a far more efficient layout.  (The amount of empty space with which Norton surrounds the poetry of --well, I'll let you fill in this blank for yourself-- has to account for, like, 380 pages alone.)  Both weighty tomes contain poetry, correspondences, essays, short stories, dynamic characters, compelling plots, moral allegories, historical dramas...

Ah... historical dramas-- that's where the two collections begin to differ, less in the nature of their content than in the perceptions of their readers.  There is virtually no dispute over whether the entries in the Norton Anthology are fiction or non-fiction.  Somewhere, though, in the swirls and rapids of the river of time, those who "believe in the Bible" have lost sight of the fact that its entries were never intended to be historical documents.  To use them as such is to misuse them.  Ending the practice is --surprise, surprise-- the first tentative, toddling step toward making the collection more relevant to a wider audience.  Oh, there's plenty of chaff mixed with the grain, to be sure, but then the same can be said of Norton.

Not to say this is chaff --I actually find it interesting-- but the Bible includes the lyrics to an ancient musical that was to be performed at marriage receptions by the entire wedding party.  Most of you won't want your kids reading it: some sections are a tad bawdy.

That's okay, though, because the Bible balances it with a collection of bedtime stories for children.  It is called The Book of Genesis.  It is therein that we find the story of the aforementioned Great Flood, a.k.a...

The Story of Noah's Ark (a synopsis):

The Lord spake unto Noah, and saying, "I have looked upon the whole of My creation, and most of it is pretty kosher, but I experienceth deep regret, as any intelligent designer would, over the hot mess that is the human race, so I have decided to smite it.  However, the birds of the air and the creatures of the land have done no wrong, with the notable exception of the snake, of course, but for reasons I'd rather not get into I have decided to spareth him nonetheless.  Whilst I am all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful and can do anything I want simply by spaking it, I have decided I don't want to dealeth with the details and am appointing a caretaker to saveth the animals in My stead.  Since thou art the human who has shown the least *ahem* impiety, you're it."

Noah stoodeth slack-jawed for several heartbeats, then sayeth he unto Him:  "Ohh... kay."

And the Lord spake again unto Noah, commanding, "Thou shalt buildeth thee one big-ass boat --I will hath the Archangel Michael draweth up thou some plans, he's into that sort of thing-- and gathereth thee unto thou specimens of every animal upon the Earth, that they may stinketh up the joint until such time as it is safe for them to getteth busy repopulating the Earth.  Heareth Me well on this:  upon no account wilt thou draweth comparisons between thyself and the other primates.  Also, the boat will be madeth of wood, so I'd be very, very careful how I handled the termites, were I you."

Noah's shoulders slumped.  "Can't You just kill me now?"

"No!" spake the Lord.  "On the contrary, thou shalt liveth to an age so ancient and ripe it will literally defyeth credibility for millennia.  Of course, for the vast majority of that time thou shalt be older than the very dirt beneath thy sandals, so it won't be much fun.  However, thou wilt taketh thy family with thou: thy wife, thy sons and their wives.  Thou will needeth the manpower.  Besides, just between thee and Me and thy wife's libido, I can't really counteth upon thou to rebooteth the species, now can I?"

Noah pursed his lips.  "So, everybody dies?  Friends?  Neighbors?  In-laws?"

"All but those I hath named," answered the Lord.

Noah shrugged.  "Okey-dokey."

And so it cameth to pass that Noah and his sons built a great big boat and gathered unto them specimens of every animal upon the planet, even those of which they had no knowledge.  Some sayeth they gathered two of each; others sayeth seven of each; still others sayeth seven of some and two of the rest --whomever edited The Book of Genesis was way sloppy-- and all this they did while suffering acute self-consciousness owing to the strange looks they got from the neighbors.  Some merely said the boat was frivolous.  Others decried it as an eyesore and tried to get an ordinance passed banning the construction of such monstrosities, but the legislation was still in committee when it started to rain...

And the rain, rain, rain cameth down, down, down.  It is said it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, which isn't enough to floodeth the entire planet, but whenever this criticism is raised, defenders sayeth the number 40 was used in those days to mean "many" or "too many to count."  This argument would have more merit were it not used by the same people who claimeth The Book of Genesis is 100% factually accurate.

Anyway, it rained.  A lot.  All the people who were not aboard the boat perished, as did all the animals not aboard the boat, except, like, the ducks and the geese, for which the Great Flood was really no big deal.  And the boat was upon the deep for, uh, a really long time.  More than 40 days and 40 nights.  Then it cameth to rest upon the mountains --plural-- of Ararat.

Noah cameth forth from the boat and built an altar unto the Lord, and upon that alter he sacrificed one of the animals he had worked so damned hard to save-- which would seemeth counterproductive, but it's what he did.

Then the Lord spake unto Noah again, and saying, "I experienceth again deep remorse over smiting the creatures of the Earth-- even the humans, hard though that may be to believeth.  Casteth thine eyes over yonder and see the rainbow I have set over the Earth.  It is a sign of my promise to never again smite the Earth by flood.  I'll probably just slow cook it next time...

"Oh, and one more thing:  Never, ever, ever breatheth a word about how I stoleth the whole flood idea from The Epic of Gilgamesh."

P.S... Bud "25 or 6 to 4... or 211" Selig must go.

Aug 14, 2013

A Trip to the Dentist

posted by killre

File this one under "No good deed goes unpunished," because it all started while flossing.

I was using one of those little plastic pick-prongs with the half-inch or so of floss strung tightly between the tines.  I ran it up between two teeth about midway back on the upper left side and diligently sawed away, working the seams between tooth and gum, up and down, back and forth, et cetera, et cetera.

When I tried to pull the flaxy, waxy thread out from between my teeth, it got snagged on something.  I rattled it around some and gave it a couple of testing tugs, but it was a no-go.  What I should have done next is root around in a few drawers for a set of long, slender scissors --I know we've got one around here somewhere-- snipped the floss, pulled it out laterally, tossed the pick, grabbed a new one and continued.  That's what I should have done... but instead I let frustration get the best of me and got into a wrestling match with a minty-fresh piece of string.

I tried a variety of moves, most of which are unimportant.  One thing I did try several times was the ever-popular Sheer Brute Force: a sustained, downward pull that threatened to yank at least one of my teeth out of my head long before dislodging the damnable cord.  I'd like to say it was a well-reasoned conclusion that that would be winning the battle but losing the war that stopped me, but the truth is it was the pain.  I again considered going on a treasure hunt for the scissors, but I decided to save that as Plan B.

Eventually, after several eternal minutes of trying, I twisted and jiggled the thing just right and it came out.  The pick-prong was undamaged, but I nonetheless threw it away with a plosive breath of contempt, grabbed a new one and flossed the remaining teeth.  There was some lingering discomfort, and at my next meal I had to be a bit careful which side of my mouth I used to chew, but it was mild and I figured it would fade.

It faded.  For two blissful days I was ignorant of any problem.  Then, over the weekend (naturally), the pain returned with a proverbial vengeance.  Because the whole side of my head hurt, all the way up through the temple, I at first assumed it was the mother of all lopsided migraines-- brought on no doubt by the continued insistence of, um, certain people on this site that "Show off your Impiousness" is somehow more correct than "Show your impiety," which it self-evidently isn't.  (Not to discourage comment, Dear Reader, but trust me when I tell you it has already been pointed out to me the irony of arguing the proper form of the word impious.)

I started with 800 milligrams of ibuprofen.  I waited twelve whole minutes and it didn't seem to be working, so I took more.  By Sunday night I was taking 1000mg at a time.  By Monday I was gobbling 1200mg and washing them down with NyQuil, for the acetaminophen.  It was now clear that the problem was tooth-related.  That night over dinner my wife asked me if I was going to see a dentist.  I replied, "I hope not."  My dentist moved to Idaho several years ago and I've been, uh, let's say "reluctant" to find another because, hey, is there anyone who actually likes going to the dentist?  And I'm a big boy now who doesn't have to do everything my mommy tells me to, so I don't.

Tuesday morning my wife asked me if I wanted the number of her dentist.  I said yes.  She also revealed that she had one low-dose vicodin tablet, well past expiration, left over from some old prescription.  I said, "I'll take it."  She dug through her medicine cabinet and came back saying, "I was wrong.  There are three pills."  I told her I'd take them all.  She told me with some emphasis that I would take one.  I said, "You're leaving in, like, ten minutes, right?"

I called the dentist's office promptly at nine and got an appointment for eleven o'clock.  They asked me to come in about fifteen minutes early to fill out some paperwork.  I showed up forty-five minutes early.  They handed me a clipboard with some forms, because that's always the best medicine for someone in debilitating pain: filling out forms.  One question, directly underneath "Full Name," was "What do you like to be called?"  I considered writing Killre, but some people are thrown off by the spelling so I simply put the short version of my formal first name.

A dentist's assistant came out and ushered me through a superbly clean, new-age-looking suite of rooms to a state-of-the-art examination nook with a reclining patient chair that was as un-reclined as an airline seat while the plane is on the tarmac.  She deftly mixed small talk with questions about the nature and circumstances of my problem as well as my overall oral hygienic habits, all the while taking x-rays of my teeth.  Once finished she blessedly reclined the chair and I could breathe again for a few minutes.

The D.D.S. came in and introduced himself.  His last name was a tongue-twisting collection of syllables that were all patently Japanese.  His first name was Ted.  He told me I had a broken filling.  Cue the light bulb.

He took a slender, hooked, rubber-tipped instrument and applied pressure to that tooth.  The look I gave him was no more pained than my usual expression, so he applied more pressure.  And more.  And more.  I started to feel like a hooked fish.  He asked me if I felt any pain.  I shrugged.  He released the pressure and said, "Huh."  Then he thought about moving the rubber-tipped instrument in the general direction of the next tooth back and I screamed, "Iphiethy!" and almost kicked him in the side of the head with my knee.  He looked at his assistant and said, "You know, I think it might actually be the next tooth."  He told me he just wanted to make sure and gently grazed the rubber tip against the thin film of moisture clinging to the enamel.  I looked at him like I wished his grandparents had been at Nagasaki and growled like a Doberman with a hambone.  He said, "Yeah, I think that's the one."

He explained that I needed a root canal, which involved taking out the nerves in the tooth.  He said more, but I wasn't listening because I was thinking, "Take the nerves out-- what a great idea!"

They reclined me further, shot me up with some of that magical, mystical fluid that makes part of one's face disappear and went away for about ten minutes.  The assistant came back and asked me if I was numb.  I touched the tooth with my tongue and said no, so they gave me another dose.  Ten more minutes.  Numb?  No.  A third dose.  Ah, now I'm good.

Throughout the procedure, he kept asking me if I was okay.  Whether by accident or design, every time he asked the question he had both hands and at least one instrument in my mouth.  My usual response to such queries is to (a) say yes or no, (b) nod or shake my head or (c) perform some complex combination of a and b.  It didn't occur to me at the time to give him a simple thumbs-up-- for that I blame the drugs.  I finally used a brief interlude when he didn't have his hands in my mouth to say, "Believe me... if there's a problem, I'll let you know."

When he was finished, he told me he was going to prescribe an antibiotic.  He also asked me if I wanted something for the pain.  I thought, "Pain?  What pain?"  Oh, I was dimly aware that somewhere in our species' barbaric past people suffered from a great deal of pain following a root canal procedure, but this was 2013 and I was in an operating theatre that looked like it was 2013 and a sizeable part of my face had disappeared and not yet returned and I felt fantastic, so I p'shawed the very idea of needing a painkiller.  He shrugged and said okay.

I stopped at the receptionist's desk to make my next appointment.  There is a follow-up procedure, y'see, and besides that they hadn't actually fixed the broken filling that had started the whole thing.  She told me her first availability was September 13th.  I did some quick math.  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday... "Friday the 13th?  Really?" I asked.  "Yeah," she said, "I was hoping you wouldn't figure that out so quick."  Perfect.

I asked to use the restroom before leaving.  While washing my hands, I glanced in the mirror.  I looked like I'd had a stroke.  Oh, I still felt fantastic... but I looked like I'd had a stroke: the left side of my face was puffy and slumped.  When I tried to grin, my mouth looked like someone had tackled the letter S and now both teams were standing around waiting for the trainers to bring the stretcher.

I stopped by a drugstore to fill the antibiotic prescription.  I continued to feel good most of the way home.  I had just parked the car when my face returned... and with it the pain.  It hurt so much I couldn't see straight.  It hurt so much my eyes watered.  It hurt so much I felt like the letter S.  It hurt so much I considered walking blindly into the middle of the nearest Interstate and ending it... and if all those bastards came to a screeching halt and refused to hit me, I was going to pick a fight.  I decided to save that as Plan B.

I wiped my eyes long enough to dial the dentist's office and meekly ask for, you know, that pain prescription thing?  They asked me where I wanted the order sent and I gave them the location of a nearby pharmacy.  I swallowed 1200mg of ibuprofen and chased it with DayQuil (I was fresh out of NyQuil), waited half an hour, wiped my eyes and went to the drugstore.  They didn't have my prescription.  They said they'd never received the order.  By now it was after five p.m.  The dentist's office was closed.

That night it merely felt like my face was on fire.  It helped somewhat to gently --ever so gently-- rub my cheek, but one can't go through life like that.  One time I reached up to rub, misjudged the distance (again I blame the drugs) and accidentally smacked myself in the face.  That felt like my face was on fire and someone had tried to pat it out with the front end of a city bus.

I called the dentist's office the next morning.  They double-checked the location of the drugstore and said they'd put the prescription through right away.  I took some ibuprofen, chased it with Southern Comfort (I was fresh out of DayQuil) and was headed for the door when, bless him, a clerk from the pharmacy called.  He said they didn't have that particular medication in stock and I should check again tomorrow afternoon.  Perfect.

By the next day I was down to 800mg and the only reason I was still chasing it with Southern Comfort was because I was afraid not to.  That and, well, because I like Southern Comfort.  I went to the pharmacy and gave the clerk my full name.  She asked me to verify my address, then looked confused when I did so.  She rattled off two different addresses and asked me if either was mine.  I said no.  She said she didn't have me in the system.  There are occasions when I like hearing that sentence.  This wasn't one of them.

Then next clerk over said, "Wait, what are you talking about?"  She told him.  "I remember.  I took that call," he said, then he turned to me and told me it was filed under my nickname.  The first clerk punch that name in and told me, "Okay, there it is.  Now you know."  Yeah... 'cuz somehow it's my fault.

I loitered for about fifteen minutes before a pharmacists came out from the back to tell me they didn't have that medication in stock and I should check again tomorrow.  I said, "That's funny 'cuz that's what I was told yesterday."  He said he'd be right back.  I watched him through the glass as he consulted with another pharmacists and then as the other pharmacist consulted a computer.  The first guy came back out and told me they never have that medication in stock, nor can they order it because it is unavailable through their distributor.  He suggested I shop around and named some pharmacy chains that he knew had different distributors from theirs.  I thanked him, took his card and walked out thinking, "Yeah... I'm not gonna do that."

I'd love to tell you the moral of this story is, "Don't floss-- it can only lead to trouble," but I trust you've already gleaned its real lesson:  If a doctor asks you if you want prescription pain medication, always say yes.

P.S.... Bud "You Know Who I Hate To See?  Hair Stylists" Selig must go.

Aug 6, 2013

Al Qaeda Pranks USA

Intercepted communication between al Qaeda leaders was one component of a broader pool of intelligence that prompted a threat alert closing numerous U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa, U.S. sources said.

The New York Times reported that the closure of the embassies was the result of intercepted electronic communications between Ayman al-Zawahri, who replaced Osama bin Laden as head of al Qaeda, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of Yemen-based affiliate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

U.S. sources said that while some type of message between Zawahri and AQAP was intercepted recently, there were also other streams of intelligence that contributed to the security alert, which was prompted by a threat from AQAP.

"The threat picture is based on a broad range of reporting, there is no smoking gun in this threat picture," a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

U.S. officials said there was still no information about a specific target or location of a potential attack, but the threat to Western interests had not diminished.

The threat is just as serious now as it was on Friday when the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert, said Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

"It's a very serious threat," Ruppersberger told CNN. "I've seen the intelligence. It's a threat coming from the highest levels of al Qaeda. And especially focused in the Arabian peninsula, Yemen and areas like that."

-Or- there's my theory... These bad guys read the paper, realized what Snowden was saying, and is now "testing" or, better, TEASING the US to see what their response would be if they started some "chatter" out there about doing something. Sure, the US picked that phony phone call up, and thought the Arab version of the Jerky Boys was legit and then in typical American fashion, they over-reacted, just like it was scripted. Is this dangerous, you bet. Is it a smokescreen or a diversion - too soon to tell. Or has Al Qaeda reduced to making prank phone calls to piss off Uncle Sam? 

Given the three high profile prison breaks in the last three weeks, I'd say that playing it safe is a better reaction than getting up to see if your refrigerator is running down the street.