Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's About Affordability

I love analogies of all kinds. Analogies've been very good to me. For example, thanks to my ability to ace SAT multiple choice analogy questions, I was able to attend college. That was in spite of the countless Ds in Language Arts I earned by not doing any of my stupid moron teachers' stupid homework for morons and stupid losers, on account of my being socially maladjusted.

But, more important than getting into college so you can study hard, excel, party, and get laid, analogies can be instructive. By means of analogies you can learn to better live in this complicated world of ours, and so better party, and get laid.

Here's an instructive analogy: Living on the street out of a cardboard box even though you are able-bodied, is to being homeless, as being unable to drive to work even though you have a functioning car is to being gasolineless.

In ten years, as the price of gasoline continues to rise, I expect there will be thousands of the gasolineless walking 5, 10, or 15 miles to work every day. People who can still afford gasoline will look down upon the gasolineless. They'll say, if only the gasolineless applied themselves and worked extra jobs in other cities, they could afford gasoline like decent people. Boneheaded compassionate conservatives will lament the downward spiral that results from gasolinelessness. Because many of the gasolineless won't be able to get to work at all, their rents and mortgages will go unpaid, causing them to become homeless, too, after which it will be minutes before they start begging and using their change to buy Thunderbird. Boneheaded compassionate Liberals will speak of the ennobling effects of gasolinelessness.

High School kids will go gasolineless for a weekend to learn how hard it is, then write term papers on how it felt. The ones who weren't disposed to be sympathetic from the start will write about how it wasn't so bad having to walk to the neighborhood McDonald's for a change, and how the gasolineless are all whiners and losers.

After another ten or fifteen years, the gasolineless will be visible everywhere, bringing down property values and bumming decent people out. People will bitch and moan about how they can't drive two blocks without having to ignore a dozen or more dirty aggressive hitchhikers. So a Ten Year Plan to End Gasolinelessness will be developed by a Committee to End Gasolinelessness in King County. The committee will have numerous subcommittees, because the gasolineless come in so many different kinds. There's the Single Adult Gasolineless, the Families With Children Gasolineless, and the Senior Citizen & Physically Disabled Gasolineless.

[Above: As gasolinelessness increases, we'll be subjected to scenes like this everywhere. Our young men and women will all become indistinguishable from Europeans.]

They will come up with something called Gasoline-First. The idea originally will be to supply gasoline to all the gasolineless first, and only when they are in a stable gasoline-adequate living situation to begin work on the problems that made them gasolineless, so they can gradually improve themselves, develop work skills, and find productive work appropriate to their needs and abilities. Advocates of the Gasoline-First approach will tell the skeptics that it is easier and cheaper to give people gasoline than to have them cluttering our streets and highways thumbing rides, leaving us no choice but to jail them all.

Unfortunately there won't be funding for all the gasoline needed to do Gasoline-First for everybody right away, mainly because not enough people involved in the Ten Year Planning would raise hell and demand full funding. So in all the subcommittees the talk will focus on the Chronically Gasolineless -- people who are gasolineless for either long periods of time or repeatedly, who are the costliest burden on society. With the money we save Gasoline-Firsting the Chronically Gasolineless they believe we will eventually be able to Gasoline-First others.

Also our success in helping the Chronically Gasolineless out of Gasolinelessness will show what's possible and create the political will needed to end all Gasolinelessness, just in the nick of time, before the ten years are up.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Fertilizer Factor

Let's talk about fertilizer!

First, though, let's out Anitra "Happy Ending Every Time" Freeman. Anitra molests tomato plants!

I spoke of sacred cooking two weeks ago. Also sacred to some of us who've been homeless is the garden, and garden related activities. I don't have this symptom because in my reality there is but one Vegetable. All vegetable entities, be they rice, or flour, or wood, or potatoes, are merely manifestations of the One Great Onion in the One Great Dirt, and Anitra can have it.

The building where we live has a garden for residents like Anitra who need to muck about in one. They're growing tomatoes there, among other things. Two days ago, I'm not making this up, she wanted a vibrator for the tomatoes. Yes, THAT kind of vibrator. She said she wanted to help them "self-pollinate." Sick.

Then, yesterday, she said some of the plants she'd "helped" weren't old enough. Anitra is molesting under-aged tomato plants! I thought you all should know.

She's also been pouring "tea" on the garden. Not the tea you drink. It's foul compost tea. She gave me some for the house plants and I left some lying around. I came home to find the place smelling like a steaming outhouse. She said, "Oh, so it's true what they say, it DOES spoil quickly." I'm glad we both learned that.

[At right: The fall-back tool.]

Speaking of learning, I got to thinking about fertilizer. You know, you can learn a lot about the world by picking out just any random concept like "fertilizer" and tracking down what's done with it.

First, what is fertilizer? Fertilizer is plant food. OK, and what do plants eat, Wes? Almost any awful thing you can think of. There's crap, slurry (water and crap), blood, bone, worm crap, sewage, seaweed, limestone, urea, saltpeter, Chilean saltpeter, bird guano, bat guano, and seal guano.

[Left: Portrait of an active fertilizer.]

Saltpeter is potassium nitrate. Chilean saltpeter is sodium nitrate. Urea is a source of saltpeter. So is guano, which also provides phosphorus and phosphates with which to make so-called superphosphate which big farms spray on crops to feed them, and, indirectly, the rest of us.

In the 9th century, a Far Eastern alchemist who wanted an elixir to enable him to live forever had mixed up some sulfur, rat poison, and some crystals solidified out of urine. He thought "that should do it", and then it blew up in his face, literally.

Plants don't just get energy from nitrates. Explosives get energy from nitrates, too. Governments also get energy from nitrates. All God's chillun get energy from nitrates, ultimately, on this planet. With that realization came the U.S. Guano Islands Act of 1856. I bet you never heard of that, but you have heard of Midway Island, where we fought a huge battle in World War II. Have you ever wondered why were we at Midway Island in the first place?

For the guano! It was one of the islands that interested American citizens (i.e. companies wanting to profit from the demand for guano and guano related products, like gunpowder) were permitted to seize on behalf of the United States, by the Guano Islands Act. The Act only provided for short-term material exploitation of the islands seized. It marked the real beginning of American imperialism as contrasted to American expansionism.

After synthetic nitrates made guano less valuable as a source of explosives, guano profits fell and a lot of U.S. guano islands were abandoned. We kept Midway for its strategic location.

But don't think that means that guano is no longer important to the world's government, or that there won't be guano wars in the future. In fact, the current oil wars may just be a rehearsal for the future fertilizer wars.

Just as oil peaks, so will phosphorus. No phosphorus, no agriculture. No agriculture, massive world starvation, like nothing we've seen so far. There will be wars just to determine who eats.

I thought you all should know.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You'll Think This Column Is About You

Dear America,

I really hate putting you down. I know how vain, selfish, and arrogant you are, and how, because of that, if I ever put you down, you will never listen to me again. You only listen to flatterers like George Bush, who lie and tell you every day how great you are.

[Pictured: Archetypal brown-nose Eddie Haskell. "And might I add, Mrs. Cleaver, that is a lovely blouse you are wearing!"]

I've tried to be your best friend, America. I really have. When you got into that illegal war 4 years ago I tried to hold you back. That's what best friends do. When they're making a stupid mistake, you try to hold them back, to save them from being stupid. But you didn't appreciate it. You cursed me. You screamed, "I'm NOT making illegal war! I'm killing terrorists! Give me my keys or I'll send you to Guantanamo and I'll non-torture you, you LIBERAL!" or words to that effect. And then you went off and "killed terrorists" who weren't there and now the world hates you and you're in the back of the bar pounding the wall, screaming, "They don't ANY of them have ANY business hating ME. Tell me I'm great or I'll cut you, you LIBERALS!"

That's how you curse me. I can complain all day about a liberal Supreme Court that OKs violating protections of private property owners, or a Congress that ignores long established conservative fiscal principles, or passes ex post facto laws as if the Constitution doesn't matter any more. But let me tell you, America, just once, that you are going to hell in a hand-basket if you don't clean up your act, and all of the sudden I'm a LIBERAL.

OK, America, have it your way. I'm a poor, drip-coffee-drinking, beer-guzzling, bus-riding 'cause-I-can't-afford-a-moped, much-less-a-Smart-Car, Constitution-loving, PC-hating, LIBERAL, because you say so.

Meanwhile, for years me and all my LIBERAL buddies have been telling you that capital punishment doesn't work. We did study after LIBERAL study (all study is liberal to you) to find out that capital punishment has no deterrent effect. Also, the only places where execution costs less than life imprisonment are Third World countries that are overrun with murderers. You didn't care. Fine.

But last week something just drove me over the edge. A guy, Philip Workman, on death row in Tennessee, asked that his last meal be pizza served to some homeless person. The Tennessee authorities refused, BECAUSE IT WOULD COST MORE THAN $20.

Philip Workman is a creep. He probably didn't commit the murder he was sentenced for, because the Medical Examiner who testified against him is a pathological histrionic liar. But Workman's still a creep. Besides, you already know I'm LIBERAL, so I'm pro-death, having no respect for the sanctity of life. So I say kill Workman, make him hurt, and bring that Third World on.

But the refusal to honor Workman's last meal request is more than sad, and I'll tell you why, America, and you're not going to want to hear me tell you why, and you'll cover your ears, America, and shout "La, la, la, I'm not listening to you, LIBERAL!" But here I go.

All the Tennessee authorities had to do to get a homeless person fed for free WAS TO GO PUBLIC AND ASK PEOPLE TO HELP BY DOING IT FOR THEM.

This is what American Civilization has devolved to. America, you are SO SCREWED UP that your petty officials don't even THINK of asking your citizens to help them do anything. You are that full of hatred for common people, that stuck up with authority and bound up with petty bureaucracy channeling hatred of the lower-classes, that it doesn't even occur to the people running your prisons that the people outside the prison walls could even be a resource to be asked to do what they couldn't do.

A civilization so degenerate that it treats its own people as useless, space-filling, trash, can't last a generation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Thrill of the Meatball

Yesterday I made spaghetti from leftovers, and rejoiced. I'll try to explain why.

The point is, when I was urban-homeless, making spaghetti from leftovers was almost impossible. Oh, yes, there were leftovers. I might have been able to eat at a free community meal, and they might have had something like what I fixed three days ago that "seeded" the spaghetti. In fact that had been just exactly the sort of food I've gotten at free community meals.

Being poor, I went to one of those stores [see their talking cartoon head] where they specialize in selling me packaged foods that haven't been fully unloaded from their boxes. Since I don't mind the clutter, I reap the savings! Such aesthetic neglect netted me 12-ounces of meatballs PLUS two red bell peppers for half what the meatballs alone would have cost me in a neater store. I already had an unmarked pound of white rice of undetermined extraction from a food bank. Pearls? Peewees? I had 49-cents worth of tomato sauce and a yellow onion.

The seed meal was that. A rice-meatball-tomato-sauce-onion event. I'm not a great cook. I collect ingredients to critical mass and combine with heat. Nevertheless, cooking is extremely important to me. Assembling my own food for my own consumption is a sacred act, even if I do it badly, whether the results are edible or not.

[Shown: The sacred cranking of chickens during the 15th Century]

Speaking of sacred acts, when I'm dead I want everyone to eat domestic Limburger in memory of me. You don't have to do it every year. Once would be sufficient.

Actually, I was cooking as usual for both myself and Anitra "On Whose Kitchen Floor I Have Sometimes Slept" Freeman. Cooking food for her own consumption is NOT so sacred an act for Anitra, so I get to do most of it and hog all the cooking sacredness to myself, while she does sacred emails.

Even with both of us eating it, the rice-meatball-etc. event would not disappear. The meatball-onion-sauce was half leftover. As I said, this could also have happened at a community meal. They use cheap ingredients too. If Anitra and I were still homeless we could have been at one of those meals and could have each had a half serving of meatball-onion-sauce left over, which we might have dumped into a container and saved.

Then, we could have done much of what I did later. Since more sauce was needed for spaghetti, we would have obtained a can of spaghetti sauce. I got mine this time at a food bank. When we were homeless we would have got the spaghetti sauce with food stamps. Since garlic was essential, we would have bought one bulb of that vegetable variety, peeled it, and stuck slices of it in our extra sauced leftovers, using a sharp knife. I always had a sharp knife when I was homeless.

Then what? The directions for making the spaghetti now call for the heating of the meatball-laden sauce so as to mellow the garlic and disseminate its flavor, and to cook up a pot of spaghetti to put the sauce on. This means boiling water.

Ouch. The army has heating pads for MREs that we could have used in theory to heat the sauce, but they wouldn't boil water. Well, we could have built a fire. But you'd be surprised how quick the police show up when you build an illegal fire anywhere in the city limits. They come the quickest when you're hungry or cold.

You'd think the military would hurry up and come up with a flameless heater that our soldiers can use to boil water, as opposed to just heat stuff up. I mean, we've got a war every minute, let's put our wars to good use, spurring the technology that will make being homeless bearable, since we will be draining our country's resources to make so much of it.

Then those of us in housing won't be the only ones who get to enjoy the thrill of making spaghetti from leftovers.

[Pictured at right: Life's goal achieved!]

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Clicker Heaven

I'm like a little boy with a brand new red wagon and a wagon-load of fat puppies! I could play forever with, my new toy.

It's the U.S. Government's Official Web Portal, and all you need is that address, a connection, a clicker and a click-displaying device (computer) and you have the entire mad, mad, world of government at the finger-tips of your choice. Just now I was in the site index, and I had an urge to go to "F". From "F", I went to Family Issues. I wondered what my government knew about Family Issues.

WELL, my government knows a LOT about Family Issues! It knows how to adopt children, how bad college drinking is, and how to Be Food Safe during Easter and Passover meals. It knows about "Girlpower!" (harnessing girls 9 to 13.) It knows how many mothers there are in Mississippi. If you are a female "of child-bearing age" in Mississippi, i.e. 15-44, odds are 68 to 32 you are a mother! It's only 56 to 44 anywhere else! Ladies, if you don't want to get pregnant don't go to Mississippi!

My government knows that every year 4 million American women have babies, and 425,000 of them are 15-19. Did you know that the most popular day to have a baby is Tuesday? Your government has found that out with your tax penny, and it's generously sharing that information on its big Family Issues page. It's more fun than I ought to have.

My destination was, of course, the Family Planning and Birth Control link, because I wanted to learn how abstinence could help all my Real Change friends stop popping babies out every other Tuesday. But I got distracted by the Fun Stuff for Kids link. You have all got to see this if you haven't already. Just go straight to It is so awesome! Maybe everybody SHOULD have kids, so all this stuff could get full use!

There's the Barney Cam, which has the "Miss Beazley's Christmas" video. There's Art Zone from the National Gallery of Art, which has cool interactive art you can do online, there's a Garfield Comics Creator, there's an Our Day with the Coast Guard Coloring Book you can print out, or just read for fun, ...

Discipline, discipline! I must stick to the task at hand. No more babies, no more babies. I remind myself of all the emails with the baby pictures, the long video of the cute incident in the park, being dragged aside to see the new screen saver with kid number one, or was it number two? Do they have numbers or names? I've forgotten. Must dam off the baby flood! Even though the Coast Guard might have an exciting career waiting for each and every one of them, provided he or she has coastal water-based talents.

Finally I clicked on Family Planning and Birth Control and COOL BEANS! Pretty pictures of all-different colored condoms! I clicked below the condoms on the Teen Sexual Health link because I know that if we can stop teens from having kids that'll be 10.6% of the way to solving the problem. From there I clicked on the START HERE link, because where else would I?

That got me what I wanted. My government, speaking roundabout through the Nemours Foundation, which was founded by a rich man, Alfred duPont, in 1936, says 15 out of 100 couples that use condoms will have a pregnancy in a year. Which is known to be true, if you use the condoms incorrectly.

Whereas, 0 out of 100 couples that use abstinence will have a pregnancy in a year. Which is also known to be true, if you use the abstinence perfectly. If you use the abstinence incorrectly, no one can say what will happen.

My problem was solved. I knew I could count on my government to tell me how to lie most effectively.

[Picture: Only listen to government approved doctors!]