Wednesday, June 29, 2005

High Court High

Now they’ve done it. They’ve gone and made me mad.

Nothing makes me madder than waking up in the middle of the day and finding out that I’m on the same side of a losing Supreme Court opinion as Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas. Oh yes, and Sandra Day. Oh joyous Day. I’m so consoled that Sandra agrees with us on this.

Having Sandra Day O’Connor be the most liberal Supreme Court Justice on your side is like catching yourself trying to be “hip” by knowing who Pauly Shore is. It’s like being told by the prettiest girl at the party, “You’re a lot like my Dad. He’s old too.” It’s like finding yourself so drunk you’re telling your buddies you’ve had sexual fantasies involving Annette Funicello recently.

I’m talking about the decision of the court last week to allow any local government to exchange one private owner of a property with another purely on the grounds that higher taxes may be gained, eventually. I’m talking about the fact that I am opposed to that decision the same way I am opposed to, say, a repeal of the Civil Rights Act, or eliminating Social Security, or eating babies, or bringing back death camps -- but look! My side loses to the liberals! What the… ?

If I’m going to be the conservative on this one, I’m at least going to have the fun I’m due for it. I’m going to do the conservative rant I never get to do.

Just what were John Paul Stevens, and his PINKO traveling companions, Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer shooting up their veins last Thursday when they decided to turn this country over to the communists at long last? Judge Stevens said that “appreciable benefits to the community” including “increased tax revenue” as determined by a locally elected government, justify throwing private citizens of this great country off their privately owned land. Who’s the Indian now, White Man?

That’s right, I said it. Those Latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, Yoga-doing, Embryo-killing, Affirmative-Action-loving-as-long-as-THEIR-kids-can-still-get-in-at-Harvard, Vegetarian, Commie-peace-nik, long-haired, PBS-funding stinking Liberals with a Capital L have infiltrated our sacred hall of justice and made it a home for the enemies of Freedom and the Great White American Way!

When I was a White Boy growing up in the fifties my Father promised this country to me. He said, “Look around you, Son. All this land used to belong to the Red Man, who held it communally for the good of wilderness itself and the good of all the people in their various tribes. But we came to America and taught the Red Man the new concept of Private Property, meaning every White Man is a Private, and every Red Man is in the wrong army, and White Men get the Property.”

Now with one Supreme Court decision all of that is gone! I can work all my life for Boeing or Microsoft or whoever, save all my money and buy prime Duwamish river-valley land, land my White predecessors stole fair and square, and I can even pay the mortgage off, and always pay my taxes. But if the Commissars on the Seattle City Council just decide they want a pay raise, they can condemn my property, force me to accept a fraction of what it’s worth to me in pay for it, and give it outright to anybody. The new owner doesn’t even have to be richer than me; they just have to look like they may, someday, down the road, pay higher taxes than me. If I refuse the money I’m offered, the government can just throw a box of beads at my feet and move the bulldozers in.

Stevens won’t see what an idiot he is until the day they tear down his own house and throw him out into the streets for the sake of some Operation Drive Out Trash. Welcome to Zimbabwe, By and By.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My Mother the Alien

Let’s talk about Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI)!

George Bush may be president and all, but Sensenbrenner is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Combine that with a majestic style, a love of family, and a willing spirit, and you’ve got real power.

Everything Sensenbrenner does, everything he wants, is for the good of us all. Jim wants to protect us from terrorists, so he sneaks the Real ID Act into law. The next thing you know, instead of the government having to prove you aren’t a native before deporting you, it’s your job to prove you are one.

My mother, whose original birth certificate was lost in a fire, couldn’t prove she was born in South Dakota. If only we had the Real ID Act back when I was a kid, I might have been able to get her a one-way ticket to Belize.

Before Sensenbrenner, your identity was defined by you and your family and how you chose to live. Now the federal government will define you. You will be a file linked to the electronic data on a card issued by the DMV. Only good upstanding citizens who deeply care about your welfare, such as DMV workers, will have access to all your personal information, and there is no possibility that the government will use its information on you except to send you to Guantanamo when you deserve it.

For the good of the Nation and the courts, Sensenbrenner wants to hold up new judgeships for an overworked federal judiciary until the supposedly left-leaning Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals can be split into three more manageable pieces. At the same time he wants to find a way to punish judges, short of impeachment, who stray from his interpretation of the law and the constitution, by means of an “office of inspector general” that Congress and the House Judiciary Committee would establish. He says "The appropriate questions are how do we punish and who does the punishing." My questions also!

Speaking of punishing, and how, check out Sensenbrenner’s new baby, HR 1528, AKA “The Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005.”

Here are two of the reasons this bill wins my nomination for The Legislation Most Likely in All of Human History to Have Been Written While High on Hallucinogens: 1) It provides two years mandatory prison time for failing to report a drug crime to the police even if the information is second-hand. 2) You get an extra year if the people you don’t snitch on include your own children.

Say you come home early from dinner with the husband or wife and you catch your three teenage kids passing a single joint around the living room. So you think it’s enough to just tell them they’re all grounded for a week, no keys to the car for a month, and no video games until next Whitsuntide? You honestly call that parenting? Sensenbrenner says if you don’t pick up the phone within 24 hours, dial 911, and report your kids to the police, you belong in federal prison. For three years! You drug-crime-tolerating scum!

Here’s another scenario. You’re walking down the street and you happen to see a pair of Nikes draped over a phone line. You can go to prison for two years if you then fail to tell the police you saw signs of drug dealing in that neighborhood. What’s that you say, you didn’t know that was a sign? Yeah, right. Tell it to the judge, buddy.

Just yesterday I was on a bus and overheard some teenagers talking about scoring drugs. I didn’t tell the driver to call it in! I’m so irresponsible, I’m threatening the safety of America and the American way of life. Thank goodness Jim Sensenbrenner cares enough about America to have me and everybody else on that bus put away.

We were all just abusing the Free Ride Zone anyway.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Homeless Czar Piddle

Lately I’ve been reading about the mental stress of being homeless and how it affects people in the long run. Naturally I take everything I read about that subject as I do any other, namely deeply personally. It’s the habit of a lifetime. No matter what the subject, it’s really about me. I know it.

I’m not paranoid! It’s just that everything is always about me, because the being-about-me-ness is an inescapable fundamental part of the nature of all things in Nature. For example, french fries are about me. They’re telling me I’m fat. They scream it, actually.

Boneless buffalo wings are about me. They're telling me that the makers of boneless buffalo wings think that I, Dr. Wes Browning, am so stupid that I'm going to believe they de-boned the wing of a buffalo and fried it for me, instead of just pounding some chicken breast to a pulp, frying it, and calling it a boneless buffalo wing. Whereas, in fact I know that A) buffalos don’t fly and don’t have wings and B) if they did the wings would taste like cow, not chicken.

Even when I’m specifically not being talked about, it’s about me. "I’m not talking about you, Wes! I’m talking about Christian self-flagellators among the 14th century Flemish," you’ll say, and I’ll say, "What are you saying, I couldn’t flagellate myself? Are you saying I’m not a bit Flemish? I could too be Flemish. And don’t even think of telling me I don’t have any 14th century in my blood. I’ll get 14th century on you right now and see how you like it."

Studies about the long-term mental stress of being homeless are about me. They tell me what a mistake it was for me to have been homeless all those years. They tell me I should have belonged to a different economic class. They tell me I should have lived 150 years ago, and built me a log cabin. They tell me that when insurance companies start offering insurance for mental health care I won’t be eligible to get any.

So I was reading about a study done on the mental stress of homelessness that talked about some ways long term stresses of homelessness screw you up. That’s not exactly what it said but I’m simplifying it so that I, Dr. Wes Browning, won’t have to write down a lot of technical garbage that doesn’t have anything to do with the point I am planning to make.

That point will emerge after I tell you that, in this study as well as in others that I’ve seen, a distinction is implied between the general class of the chronically homeless and the subclass of the now housed chronically homeless. The study found that the housed chronically homeless had much better prognoses than did the other chronically homeless.

And I ask myself, who are the other chronically homeless, who are not the housed chronically homeless? They’re the homeless chronically homeless, that’s who! And realizing that, now I know everybody in the world wants my brain to spontaneously liquefy and pour out my nose! Is there no stupidity people won’t force on my poor overtaxed neurons? Talk about your long-term mental damage!

I distinctly recall warning the world that something like this was going to happen, right after Philip F. Mangano (Bush administration hotshot on homelessness) started promoting the hell out of the concept of the chronically homeless. I said then that it was an idiotic concept that lacked any precision and fooled people into thinking they were saying something when they were saying precisely piddle.

Well, it’s getting piddlier. Much piddlier.

And while we're at it, sticking the word "the" in front of a nebulous concept does not make it less nebulous. Of course those who use the phrase "the chronically homeless," in particular Philip F. Mangano himself, know that. He just does it to annoy me, ” Dr. Wes Browning.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Read About Sex Here

If you're like me (and pray to your favorite power source you aren't) you like to sit all day. And when you sit all day staring at a computer, like I do, you get tired of it just sitting there staring back at you with the same cute kitty picture in the background, or whatever. So you push buttons and try to make the screen do stuff.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that one of the things I make my computer do is fetch news stories for me. This is how I, a man who hates to leave his chair even to collect free food, came to know a while back that a rooster in a town in New Zealand was suspected of carrying a bomb. I did not go to New Zealand. I simply read about it in a newspaper story, which I found on-line. I think I had googled "New Zealand terrorist chickens" during an extreme boredom fit. Or some such thing. ("To google" = "to use the Google internet search engine.")

This morning I did something similar. I tried to google "Downing St. Memo." I expected that a story of the magnitude of the Downing St. Memo story had been written up thousands of times, as would be revealed when I searched Google News from among their more than 4000 news sources. But only 27 stories popped up.

Let's put that into perspective. It has been less than a day since Russell Crowe threw a phone at some guy, and the story of his arrest has already appeared in over 300 news outlets.

So, I thought, maybe I'm asking for the wrong thing. The Downing St. Memo isn't really a memo at all, I thought. It's actually the official British Government minutes of a secret July 2002 British Government meeting called to discuss secret talks between a British representative and the Bush Administration in April of that year, concerning Bush war plans for Iraq, proving that he lied for months to the American people about his intentions, I thought. So I should drop the word "memo" and add the word "minutes", and google the phrase "Downing St. Minutes."

For just a few seconds it looked as though I was making progress! Instead of only 27 stories I found a whopping whole 49! A stunning improvement! Then I looked at what stories I really got and found that all of the new stories I had picked up were sports stories and one from something called "Boston's Weekly Dig" which had an article on 74 Things to Do This Summer. Number one: "Get drunk at Fenway Park." The word "downing" appeared in a passage that discussed the possibility of downing gallons of cocktails in the company of hairy gay men, the event described as "running with the bears." "Minutes" referred to minutes on a ferry boat ride, presumably also spent getting drunk.

OK, eventually Anitra "born to google" Freeman showed me that I needed to spell out "Street," finally getting me just under 500 hits. But, this is for a story that's had over a month to spread.

Googling "Michael Jackson trial" netted 13,300 hits! Even a story as recent as the coming out of Deep Throat got me over 5000 hits, and that's after googling "Mark Felt Deep Throat," rather than just "Deep Throat."

What does it take to get the world's press to take a story seriously? Evidently only six things matter: Sex, booze, sex, celebrities, drugs, and sex. Michael Jackson's trial has at least five of them. The Russell Crowe story has two of them (if he wasn't drunk that would be news), while writing about the Deep Throat story confers license to write "Deep Throat" over and over again, so there's your sex, sex, sex.

Question: Why does everybody know about Abu Graib and almost nobody knows about the Downing St. Memo? Answer: No one was naked at the Downing St. meeting.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The Ol' Perspecter

We are excited about all the news concerning Viagra these days. We get to use arithmetic!

They say 42 or 43 of the roughly 30 million users of Viagra and the like have become blind as a possible result of their use. Additionally, somewhere on the order of a thousand sex offenders in some other states have been getting Viagra from Medicaid, even though that is stupid.

OK, so we learn that 0.143 percent of one sex offender in those states should now be blind! An entire 3/10,000th of a blind sex offender may be running around in New York State alone! At this rate, they'll all be blind in a million years, making them that much easier to hide from.

All of this is nevertheless dreadful news for Pfizer, which makes Viagra, because now men everywhere will forgo sex in order to save their vision, causing Pfizer to go bankrupt. Ha! That was a little joke of mine. Nobody is going to give up sex just to see. Still, Pfizer is worried that possible new warnings for their product might scare very stupid people, thereby ever so slightly decreasing the profits they make off the highly valuable demographic of Very Foolish, But Somehow Not Completely Parted From Their Money Yet, People.

I think, regardless of Pfizer's worries, we SHOULD warn guys that if they use Viagra regularly it might raise their odds of going blind to as much as 2 in a million, if that will help them make an informed decision for once in their pitifully ignorant, uninformed, existences.

For that very same reason, I am in favor of many other kinds of warning notices. Surely if we warn people of dangers we could only improve their lives, never diminish them. And wouldn't it be so much more useful if all the scissors we made, or that the Chinese made for us, had the words, "do not run with this product in hands - eye puncture may occur," rather than always having to rely on one's memory of one's mother? What if one had no mother? What if one had no memory, owing to advanced dementia? What if one were raised without scissors, forced to cut paper with crude razor blades, therefore having had insufficient direct prior experience with scissors, making one's parental admonitions seem purely theoretical, lessening their impact?

To take another example, shouldn't there be warnings on car doors? Let's do the math. There are 15 deaths per year per 100,000 Americans (whether they drive or not!) due to traffic accidents. That works out to around 4500 deaths per each 30 million, a lot more than 43. So maybe a warning on each car door would be appropriate. I'm thinking of something to the effect: "You are 100 times more likely to die from riding cars like this one than to go blind from using Viagra. According to 4 out of 5 doctors, dying is worse than blindness. But remember that Detroit and Toyota depend on you. Please make an informed choice."

How about warnings on warnings? "Warning, the following warning may either (1) unnecessarily alarm you, due to an unbelievable lack of ability to keep things in perspective, causing you to avoid living your life, or (2) not alarm you enough, because you've seen too many warnings already today, and due to an unbelievable lack of ability to keep things in perspective, and as a result you may very well die or at least be permanently maimed. But remember that the medical profession needs work too. Please make an informed choice."

Obligatory homeless connection: How about warnings on streets? "Warning, if you use this product as a home, you are twenty times more likely to be murdered in your sleep, while everybody else on the planet only cares whether they can take sex-enhancement pills safely. Oh, wait, you probably don't have a choice about living here. Never mind."