Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Nanny State Must Die!!!

This is bad. This is really bad. All of you who are concerned with the rights of individuals to pursue their own pleasure should take note of this apparently growing trend.

This Wyeco, a company in Okemos, Michigan, has fired several employees for refusing to take a test. What sort of test, you ask?

A test to determine if they smoke tobacco. At all.

Wait, let me elaborate (and read the story from the Lansing State Journal).

They will fire anyone who tests positive for smoking tobacco (a legal product) in any way, shape or form REGARDLESS IF THEY ARE ON COMPANY TIME OR PROPERTY!

Yes, that's right...the bastards have reached into your life beyond the office.

Let's start at the basics. The fundamental idea of the wage system is that an employee trades his/her talent and time for the wages that they are paid. This exchange exists as long as the employee is acting as agent of the employer. When the employee is not on company time or business or property, the employee is free to pursue activities of their choosing. Basically, as stated in the article "you don't own them when you are not paying them."

This changes the whole basis of the wage system as we know it. Yes, it is true that smoking is not a constitutionally protected right. On the flip side, it does not specify this as a prohibited form of behavior for an individual or group. So I guess it exists in a legal grey area.

I can barely contain my anger. It is for an issue such as this that I would willingly die. It is not smoking; it is individual rights.

Where does this end? Alcohol (another completely legal product)? "Unhealthy" food? Certain sexual practices? Certain social activities?



We need to defend at every turn rights to individual freedom especially when they are performed on PRIVATE PROPERTY! Property rights and rights of disposal stand at the center of the system. They are paramount. We must defend them at all harms.

What do you want to do, Nanny State Conglomerate? What is your pleasure? We know what you want...happy, healthy, pious and fearful employees and servants of the state who sop up your vile pablum as mother's milk. People who are made in the mold of one another, who never question and who accept your word and deed as sacrosanct. Keep them restrained and as dependent as infants, needing you for everything and loving you and you alone.

Well, we smokers/drinkers/eaters/FREEDOM LOVERS of the world will not stand for this! Fire us! Deny us access to resources and basic services! Marginalize us!


A great man once said that when a peacful solution is made impossible, a violent one is made inevidable.

Let us have our time. We have to give you ours.

If not, prepare for the rising tide. You cannot put a noose around the neck of an idea. You can kill the revolutionary, but not the revolution.


Sunday: Give All Thanks and Praise to Bacchus!

I have a confession to make.

I think that the best drinkin' day of the week is...Sunday.

Yep, the Lord's own day. When even he took it easy.

There does seem to be an onus on gettin' down on Sunday. If you think about it, though, the events of Friday and Saturday are often active and planned. You have been waiting all week for the respite and you jump in with both feet. Sunday seemed to me, for the longest time, to be the day to come back to reality and get ready to face the anaseptic sting of Monday.

Recently, though, I have found that there is an easy, loose pace to drinking on Sunday. No, this is not just a football season thing, although it can be part of it. It seems like a day for relaxing, reflecting and knocking back a few (or more) drinks as you ease into another week like an old man into a hot bath (to paraphrase George Costanza on the sinking of the Andrea Doria).

It is a day for rich and satisfying drinks and similar conversation. Just read, listen to music, write, sculpt, get a few people together for drinks and conversation. It is the perfect mellow capstone.

I am not a regular churchgoer, but I suppose that you could incorporate any religious obligations. They are over by late morning anyway. So stop by the liquor store on the way home and pick up some Old Style. Why OS? Because it's "pure brewed in God's country!" Hell, the big guy whips the stuff up. So why not?

It is a day for lounge pants, slippers and ignoring the phone. Try it and thank me later.

(Here again, those geniuses at Modern Drunkard have a great piece on the "lost weekend," of which there is a large Sunday component. Here is a link to the piece. Read and learn.)

Be Patriotic! Disagree With Something!

I my weekly reading of the wonks, hacks, pundits and other such people who opine ad nauseum about world events (I can't help it...News is a drug and I am hopelessly addicted), I ran across the weekly offering from Thomas Sowell. Here is a link to the article.

It is great to see a good piece on an overall issue rather than "micromanaging" every daily occurrence with no regard to it's actual import.

What Sowell gets at, and quite well indeed, is the need for disagreement and questioning in a democracy. There cannot be the mass silent/complacent majority. Ask questions, demand answers and take action if you don't agree with what you are told.

Also, as Sowell points out, schools do a bad job of teaching logic and critical thinking. To me, this is a bad miseducation. Critical reading and thinking are skills that cross all of the disciplines. It should be required material (hey, let's put it in the place of phys. ed. or homeroom...they are worse than useless).

In my own experience, one of the most valuable classes that I took in college was a basic level logic class. Thinking, to work properly, must have an organization. I am not saying to restrict yourself. Random thoughts and ideas, however, to need to be systematized to make sense of the whole thing. It also makes it easier to remember things.

So get out there and criticize! Debate! Argue! Be Wrong! Be Right! Be American!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Happy Super Fun Joy Family Wish Time!

After these ascerbic posts, we need some fun...it IS Friday.

Try these out:
  1. FEMA's Fun and Somewhat Inappropriate Tsunami Game. It's mildly distracting!
  2. Bill Brasky Quote Archive - "Brasky goes about 9'11", 670." Classic.
  3. Steve Martin's Website - Let's get small!
  4. Lastly, Dr. Phil said "pee-pee" and "weiner" today.

Now, off to my real job: gettin' loaded!

Evangelical Wing-nuts and Spongebob: The Real Terrorists

The evangelical, facist, freedom-hating, intolerant, more-dangerous-than-500-terrorists Jesus freak Nazis are at it again. Read the story, but they are attacking a video with Spongebob that preaches tolerance.

Yep, tolerance.

The war on terror needs to be redirected at these people. They are the fifth column. They live amongst us, shop in our stores, pick through out garbage. They may even make overtures to you, try to be your buddy. It is all smiles and puppies until the SPRING THE PROPAGANDA SALVATION ATTACK FULL THROTTLE!

"Are you saved?"

That one question and the cat is out of the sacred sack. They are brainwashed mindless automatons who are commanded by their Minister/Fuherer to sweep across the land spreading their message of simple obedience and black-and-white moral logic.

These people are more dangerous to the U.S. than OBL, Saddam, Kim Jong Il and a big scary dog in a Buick Regal. Unfortunately, we have a man who is amenable to their cause at the helm right now.

Gay/lesbian/transgender community, if you are listening, start grooming a candidate now! I will spearhead your outreach to the straight community. We can do this together. Anyway...

So I implore you, Mr. President...take the example of JFK when people thought that there could never be a responsible Catholic president. Keep your personal beliefs, well, personal. Lead the nation in the best interest of the citizenry, not these Bible thumping reasonless hatemongers that made me leave the Republican Party for good. See, GWB, I might have even voted for ya. Well, probably not, but still...

I leave you with a quote from the Great and Ascended Master, Frank Zappa:

"If you want to raise normal kids, keep them as far away from church as possible."

The Great American Punk/Emo Kid Weight Challenge!

I was at a show that involved several bands, one of which is comprised of my brother and several of my friends (they are Second Story Collapse - they rule). There, I noticed a disturbing trend. A lot of people in the music scene around here, especially the punk kids, are in serious need of some nourishment. They are thin and pale, mopey and sallow. They seem eternally angst-ridden and pouty.

Now, I understand that a lot of this is part of the lifestyle (silly, but hey, it's your life). I cannot help you with you like for crappy music or many of the mental problems that you have/fake/create. There is one thing that I CAN help with: the lack of good food in your life.

You see, we have a defective view of food in this country. Food is, for the most part, a utilitarian notion. People want to eat quick, don't care what it is so they can get back to watching American Idol and not reading anything. The Europeans (including...THE FRENCH) view eating as essential, a daily ritual, a feast for the senses and a spiritual occurrence. This seems more healthy, no?

So, malnourished punk kids of America, let's change our outlook. Let's revel in the simple pleasures of good food and lots of it.

Some websites that can help you:

See guys? It can be fun. So turn that "world-weary" smirk upside down, quit being ironic for a second and let's go! You'll have a different view on life!

We can do this. I believe in you.

Or keep bein' creepy. Whatever.

Like Pearls for Swine...

I have been slacking recently with the posts...

That is about to change. Big time. I promise.

Corrupt Elections - Iraqis, Welcome To Chicago!

This story hit the national news today. Read it, but the gist is that an office registering Iraqi voters (or the headquarters) was asked to leave north suburban Niles because of "security concerns."

First off, what does anyone in politics in this area have any business saying the first word about how to run a safe and fair election? We, as Mike Royko said, are the most theatrically corrupt city in America. People always say that the machine is dead in Chicago; the Duff family might tell you different.

Secondly, this makes this whole area in general and the suburbs in particular look really bad. We in the 'burbs have to constantly fight tooth and nail to prove that all of us are not provincial, prosaic, backward, bigoted lawnmower jockeys who are as out of touch as tribes in Micronesia. There is life and thought and great people in the suburbs and they are not the same as they were in the 1950's (not that they were ever really like that anyway). Read Kenneth Jackson's Crabgrass Frontier for more on this issue.

Lastly, no one made a big deal about all of the registration and polling places for the Ukranian election in December. Chicagoland has a large Ukranian population (we have a neighborhood called "Ukranian Village" for chrissakes), and there was no one worried about outbreaks of dioxin poisoning at the polls.

This is a horridly racist move made by a few intolerant people. There are no two ways about it.

On this great day of national ceremony, we should be ashamed.

Or maybe no one cares.

Or maybe these bigots are right and there would have been a problem.

It is a risk that we must be willing to accept so that all can live in this "freedom" that GWB paid considerable lip service this morning.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Last Call, Last Call.

I heard it on the radio. Just another one of those "passing of time" stories that make you wonder about the permanance of modern culture and the making of custom.

Apparently, the pubs in Britain are up for a change. That change, as outlined in this Business Week article, may see the end of the 11:00 closing time, a mainstay since the time of World War I. As with many issues, I can see positives and negatives:
  1. PRO - I am a firm believer in the right of people to do as they wish as long as the rights of others are not compromised. You wanna drink all day and night? Fine. Just be prepared for a searing hangover and a possible loss of job/money/clothes/whatever. The provisions would even allow some 24-hour licences for pubs. These places serve their function, but they are rarely the most pleasant of places. They are like a car lube place: gets the job done, but not much to look at. This would also be more responsive to people's variable schedules, especially in urban areas. Lastly, these laws, instituted in 1914, were designed with outmoded social conscience in mind. The powers-that-be wanted factory workers (working class, poor, Catholic, Irish and such) to be sober and ready to serve the war industries and keep the empire humming along. Well, the empire has been wiped out since 1945, so why not let loose a bit?
  2. CON - When I was in Great Britain in 1997, the closing time was an interesting challenge in planning for a "drinking gent" such as myself. Had to hit the "off-license" during the day to stock up for when the bar closes. Also, 11:00PM is a good dividing line for "punters" or people who are in for the long haul. Lastly (directed at the British), preserve your culture. With the growing role of Europe and homoginization in the West, hold on to what you can that makes you special. Winston Churchill said that "Britain is in Europe, but not of Europe." Britain has its own drinking culture; don't let it become continental. Stay strong and loaded before 11:00PM!

Raise a glass. We may never pass this way again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Shut Up and Read Yer Teleprompter

In the wake of the fiasco at CBS News (please visit their website and read the reports if you are interested in the particulars of the case. The letter from CBS President Les Moonves is particularly enlightening), I have been thinking about changes that need to be made in network news. Network news seems to be waning in importance in the wake of cable news networks and the Internet; it does, however, remain a matter of "prestige" among the networks, their news divisions maintaining what little hold on real journalism remains (this is not the case for FOX, they just don't care).

The major problem, as I see it, is that network anchors like Dan Rather have too much responsibility. What I mean by this is that the anchor researches stories, follows leads, helps with programming and even writing in some cases. This is all in addition to actually going on the air and "performing" the news. This seems, at least in the case with Dan Rather, to be far too much to do.

What I propose is a role for the anchor similar to those in Great Britain. In the UK, people like Dan Rather are called "newsreaders." As this title suggests, that is their only function. They read the news and read scripted "interviews" with correspondents in the field who do the work of framing and producing the news. What would be so wrong with this? The newsreader must speak well and clearly, read everything properly and project an air of confidence and trust.

CBS need look no farther than Walter "The Most Trusted Man in America" Cronkite who anchored the CBS Evening News when the "Tiffany Network" was tops of all the networks in news coverage (and if you could beat Huntley/Brinkley, you were doing something right). Cronkite was involved, but he never forgot his central function as the "face" of CBS News. Wear a sharp suit, look into the camera and read beautifully. How hard could that be?

Maybe this would lead to better stories, better writing and, for God's sake, more time to research stories and check sources (you know, Journalism 101 type stuff). Optimistic, yes. But I have to believe, as William Holden's character in Network did, that the news division should be the heart, soul and conscience of a television network. It is certain that the entertainment divisions cannot be trusted to do this anymore. We must rise above the Bill O'Reillys of the world and aspire to present thoughtful news to a public for their consideration and debate.

Pie in the sky? Sure, but even I feel hopeful occasionally, at least where the fate of humankind and its culture is concerned.

A fella can dream, can't he?

Plato: 24 Hour Love Machine

Rather than continue yesterday's discussion about love and rationality, why don't we all read (or review for some of us) the best arguments for and against the rational nature of love: Plato's Symposium? Follow this link to an online transcription. Read and let's discuss. Ain't the classics wonderful?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Intercourse: No Recourse?

These issues have been turning around in my head for quite a time now. The time has come to share them with you good people...

Sex is a risky behavior. This seems self-evident, but it seems that most people pay lip service to this truism but don't believe in it for a second. Why is this?

Sex introduces emotional and mental involvement with such confounding and potentially dangerous concepts as love, commitment and trust. So why is it that people allow this quite risky behavior to rule their minds and actions and possibly ruin them?

It is said by psychologist and anthropologist alike that sex and the desire for it are uncontrollable "animal" instincts, inborn and as essential, in some ways, as food and shelter. This approach to the subject could not be more misguided.

Sex needs to be viewed rationally. How is this possible? When sex (a series of pleasant physical and sensory stimuli) can have wide reaching effects (deadly disease, unwanted pregnancy, mental anguish, social compulsion, alienation and a host of other pathologies) not only on one's self but on countless others, emotion must be set aside and reason be allowed to take control.

Sex must be understood for what it is and be exposed to a "risk management analysis" or "cost/benefit analysis." One must ask "what do I stand to gain and what is possibly at stake here?" Or, to put it in my father's words "is the screwing you get worth the screwing you take?"

With all of the physical and mental risks involved, I cannot see many situations where the answer would come back "yes, this is a good idea; let's do it (so to speak)."

I realize that these ideas will incur some criticism. Central among these will be those who say that I am just a bitter, loveless person who would think differently if I was "getting some." To this I say that any idiot with a basic strategy and the impetus to do so can initiate sexual congress. Not everyone so inclined, however, realizes the full implications of their actions. As I said, in most cases, the negatives outweigh the positives.

Others may say that I am just another religious zealot, against birth control and preaching celibacy apart from for married men and women for reproduction. First off, I am not a religious zealot: I believe in the right of all people to engage in whatever behavior they choose as long as it dosen't injure others. Have as much sex as you want with as many people as you want.

Just realize that your behaviors have consequences THAT YOU AND YOU ALONE MUST DEAL WITH! Do not expect that your family/government/community/religious institution/friends will do anything for you. It was you that made this decision; you figure out how to deal with it. Go to your family and friends; if they like you and pity you, you will find succor. The government (the representative of everyone else) should be left out of the equation. I do not pay exorbident taxes to support the fruits of your bad decisions, nor should I have to listen to your constant whining about how sexual dalliance has overtaken all of your energies. Keep it to yourself.

Is this cruel? Maybe it is and, frankly, I couldn't care less. I have made bad mistakes in the past and found non-invasive ways to deal with them. I suggest that all of you do likewise.

Freedom is a wonderful thing and the highest aspiration of all humankind. Don't forget this because you cannot control your purile urges. Be a better person than that and the world will be a far better place for all of us.

TOMORROW: If you must have sex, let's change some laws and customs first. Love, rationality and responsibility - The Cold Sting of Morning.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Drinking Alone With Your Family

Family can be a wonderful thing. As I am just starting this odyssey into blogging, I should perhaps tell you that I love the booze. Everyone needs a hobby: booze happens to be mine.

Back to the story, this Saturday my uncle calls me out of the blue and asks if I would take a box of booze off of his hands. I think I was in the car before he realized I dropped the phone in the sink. I make the short journey (filled with anticipation) across town to his house. What greets me there is, to quote The Band, "a drunkard's dream if I ever did see one."

There was a packing crate with no less than FIFTEEN bottles of hard liquor, most of which was whiskey (which I LOVE)! Four bottles of V.O., two bottles of Canadian Club, two bottles of Jack Daniels, two bottles of scotch (Cutty and Dewar's) and the list goes on...

I stopped on the way home to get mixers. I then stole back to my house with my booty cautiously guarded.

The thought briefly crossed my mind to call my friends and do it up with this box o' sunshine. Then it hit me. What is wrong with being a little selfish (or a lot selfish)? I would share later; it was my time now.

There are serious societal taboos against drinking alone, the therapy Nazis telling you that this is the sure sign of alcoholism and a promising sign of general mental dementia and decline. I couldn't disagree more. In this world where much of our destinies are out of our control, there is nothing more empowering than to host a party and invite only yourself.

Think of it. Don't want to watch that reality show/cable news channel/stupid crap on Comedy Central? No problem! Want to listen to bagpipe music and drink naked? Let it fly! It is completely your call. Go out, stock up, order some food and get down with your bad self and only your bad self.

(By the way, those wonderful geniuses at Modern Drunkard Magazine had an article about this very topic. There is another related article on the "lost art of the bender." Read and learn)

Friday, January 07, 2005

Art: Ask For an Explanation.

I know that you have seen these PSA's. I have too. They have been on for a while now and there was always something about them that bothered me. I was not, until recently, sure what that was.

Allow me to briefly explain. These ads are produced by an organization called Americans for the Arts. They seem to be some interest group that is funded by the Ad Council, the Doris Duke Charitable Trust and, interestingly, Old Navy (a division of the GAP Corporation). Here is their website, detailing their mission and why you would be an idiot not to support it.

Anyway, these ads alternately feature a little boy or girl, both of which are dressed in drab monotone colors. These kids, in various ads, seem interested in commodity prices and zoning ordinances. They are most certainly not interested in generic pop music, balloon animals, street musicians or playing with the dog. At the end, we are admonished by the disembodied voice of Alec Baldwin that if kids don't get "art," it shows. We should then, at the behest of Mr. Baldwin, give money to this Americans for the Arts (although, could this be indirectly done by shopping at Old Navy?)

As I said, I finally figured out what bothers me about these ads. The problem is twofold. First, so these kids aren't interested in "art" as defined by Americans for the Arts and Alec Baldwin?

They at least HAVE an interest of some kind. So what if your kid doesn't take to music or balloon animals? If he/she is interested in finance or law, encourage that by all means. These people could lead a perfectly steady life as commodity brokers or lawyers and be happy with themselves and happy that their parents nourished their life-long interests.

Secondly, who are these corporate beneficiary pseudo-charity organizations (who also receive grants from federal and state government...note the George W. Bush quote at the top of the web page) to define what "art" is to anyone?

For me, art and music are a lot like religion. They are humankind's response to the transcendent. It is our attempt as human beings to get in touch with deeper meanings, truths and feelings. If "art" is the way that you do this, fine. If you find fulfillment in your job, whatever it may be, so much the better. If you feel no need for "the arts," so be it.

Let's just avoid forcing people's "art" into a mold.
Let it be personal, an expression of the individual connection to the cosmos.

As for Alec Baldwin, I don't see you moving to Canada like you promised.

Alec Baldwin: Ask For More.

Why, no, I don't have a meth lab.

Illinois is such a magical place to live. Corrupt former governors. Idiotic current governors. Toll hikes. Driver's licenses for sale. Unabashed Abraham Lincoln worship. As a life long resident of this fine state, these issues have been more "big picture," interesting me on an interpretive rather than a visceral level.

Now it's personal.

I have a head cold (a "Christmas present, " if you will). I went to my local grocery/pharmacy/liquor/meat/deli emporium for to purchase some OTC cold medications. I pick out some non-drowsy gel capsules (for the decongestant) and a liquid cough medicine (just because I love to expectorate). I go to pay for them and I am stopped dead in my tracks by the cashier.

"We can't sell you these," she remarked with a triumphant air that made me hope that whatever I have is contagious.

I was then informed that a measure that I had read about earlier in 2004 had become law in Illinois.

Please click on the links to read the news story and the press release from Illinois Nanny-in-Chief Lisa Madigan.

This is ludicrous. I realize that the state has an interest in limiting the production of meth. But I thought that this matter could be handled by retailers limiting quantities. I mean that there is a marked difference between me with some cold remedies and some people with shopping carts full of the stuff or coming back several times, claiming "this darn cold, stubborn little monkey, ain't it?"

Perhaps it is time for some "meth lab" profiling?

This, like all laws of prohibition, will not work. No matter how many laws that the state decides to enact, people will engage in these behaviors. So you can only buy them two at a time. No prob. Get more desperate or willing people and spread out. You will still get all of the ingredients and make your meth and that will be that.

Am I advocating the manufacture of methamphetamines? Not really. I am just angered that these laws directed at some individuals who specialize in dodging the law now inconvenience regular people and (not only that) WHEN THEY ARE SICK AND MISERABLE! If people want to make meth and kill themselves slowly that should be their own business. All that the State of Illinois did was make it SLIGHTLY harder for them to do so.

Bravo, Blago and Madigan. Really helping the people of Illinois again.

If you'll excuse me, this bottle of scotch isn't going to drink itself. I can still buy this by the shopping cart load.

For today, anyway.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

It Begins...

I have decided to enter the fascinating (and occasionally rewarding) world of blogging. I think that I have something interesting to say from time to time and, darn it, I want to say it. Feel free to respond to anything as I always appreciate feedback.

What is it that you can expect? My thoughts, ideas, musings, observations, commentaries, odd stories (I have many) and other stuff that makes me mad, happy or otherwise.

Watch this space for all of this and more. As time goes on, I am sure you will get to know me. If there are already those out there that think you DO know me, let's talk. I am a sucker for nostalgia.