Cops and Quotas

As an Uber driver, I can say with considerable certainty and credibility that traffic cops do increase their sting operations in the last few days of the month.

The police swear up and down they don't have budgetary quotas to hit that drive this, and that may very well be. But it does occur and something drives it, so the end result is the same.

Furthermore, the end of June is a particularly busy time as far as traffic busts, I observe. I can only hypothesize that this is because this is not only the end of the month but also the end of the governmental fiscal year (July-June).

Cretins

I don't want to generalize across the board, but to say Republican politicians are cretins would be accurate to about a 95% confidence level. Paul Ryan is particularly cretinous, as well as douchy.

Always...

...Avoid eye contact with a sea hag.

Live Your Life

I have noticed, and perhaps you have to, that people who spend a lot of time criticizing other people for their lifestyle choices and giving their opinion about things are, ironically, not very tolerant of criticism directed at them or opinions that conflict with their own. So maybe that says something, like maybe everyone should shut the hell up and live their own lives as best they can rather than trying to impose their beliefs on the world. But that's just my opinion, man.

Fun Show

GUPPY EFFECT played a massively fun show tonight, quasi-acoustically, at the Up North Pub. I opened the show with some solo acoustic numbers and when my band mates arrived, we unleashed "thrice the rocking power" on the unsuspecting patrons of said pub. Sphincters were rent asunder, in a pleasurable manner of course.

There were a few moments when I had the realization that our brand of rock-n-roll is actually the best there is. Not everyone will agree. But those who do agree are typically those who relax their sphincters and let our rock-n-roll glide gently into their souls.

Better

After every mass shooting, everyone spends a couple days sharing their world view about guns and bickering mindlessly, then they move on to other things and forget about it until the next mass shooting and the cycle repeats endlessly. Most peoples' world views are ill informed at best and deranged at worst, and these world views are immune to reason because they are fueled by a much more powerful and irrational force...emotions. So you can spout your beliefs on social media with clever memes that show your intellectual superiority and perhaps cleanse your conscience a little, but if you want change, be the change. Support education so the populace is critical thinking and well informed. Support health care so the mentally ill can get treatment. Support social welfare so people are not desperate and angry. Disenfranchise hate and bigotry and call it out when you see/hear it. Demand a responsible mass media that questions authority rather than just regurgitating unqualified sound bites. Then every day, post on social media what YOU DID to make the world better today. Because you cannot change the world or anyone else. You can only change yourself and make your small plot in the cosmos better.

I Don't Want to Pee With Anyone

There's a lot of dumbassery surrounding who transgender people should be allowed to pee with. Let me tell you something - and I do not think I am alone on this - I don't want to pee...WITH ANYBODY. Men, women, giraffes...none of the above. I want to pee fast, in private, and get the hell out of whatever nasty public restroom I have been forced to pee in. I don't want anyone to talk to me or even look at me, and I will offer others the same sort of laissez faire not giving a shit. I don't like standing next to other men with their dongs hanging out, even if they are heterosexual males like myself just minding their own damn business. I stare at the wall in front of me, a foot or two above eye level, and get the job done. I don't talk, I don't whistle, and I wish heinous deaths on anyone who does either of those things in a public restroom. Restrooms should have signs that say: THIS RESTROOM HAS A STRICT NO WHISTLING AND NO TALKING POLICY. That should be the only basis for kicking someone out of a restroom. Zero tolerance. My $0.02 cents and worth about as much.

DFZ

One can maintain a drama free zone (DFZ) around them at all times and still lead a normal, albeit unconventionally fantastic, life. Drama acceptance has become the norm in our apathetic American society, which no longer rejects extreme drama, and even sometimes glorifies it. But some people are rejecting drama and choosing to lead maximally fulfilling lives, undiminished by the soul sucking forces of negative drama that now permeate almost every facet of American life. These bold individuals are saying NOPE to any and all drama. Instead, they are being totally cool and nice to other people, giving zero @#$&s, doing what the like, and generally minding their own goddam business and chilling the @#$& out at all times.

Middleton WI Illustrates Why People Resent Government

The Madison suburb of Middleton WI is going to spend a month and a half tearing up the street in front of our house and putting in a totally unnecessary sidewalk along the edge of the pristine nature area that lies behind our house. I could stop there and you'd already have enough information to resent Middleton local government. But I'll go on.

Middleton is assessing us for a disproportionate amount of the cost because of the new sidewalk that we don't even want (it was requested by the rich @#$%s who live in the high class subdivision nearby...most of whom are unaffected by this construction and won't be assessed any money at all).

Was there a public debate on this construction? Probably. But when we enquired as to why we were never notified about it, as directly impacted citizens, we were told that notification appeared in the newspaper twice.

That's right. The newspaper, that relic of 20th century journalism that pretty much no one under age 50 reads in the modern age. We did receive a letter in the mail that the construction would be happening. It contained no information about a date/time/place for the public to raise concerns, such as my girlfriend Deborah's disability (we are looking into an injunction under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but that seems like a long shot at this point. Our neighbor is also disabled and not being able to park near our houses for what we are told is at least two full days is a major encumbrance.). The letter did contain a phone number we could call with questions, which Deborah did. The city official she spoke with basically lied, saying we would not be responsible for the cost of the work, and promising to call us back with more information, which he never did, as far as we can tell (if he called, he didn't leave a message).

So it seems pretty likely we'll have to bite the bullet and accept the unlubricated rear entry that Middleton is forcing us into. In our apathetic day and age, we expect no sympathy or understanding from those not affected. People usually don't empathize about such things until it happens to them (and it inevitably will).

But I can still post this in hopes others will read it and come to our aid, legally or financially. Please contact me if you are a person of means who is so inclined. At the very least, this can serve to expose Middleton local government's underhanded tactics. Our leaders wonder why the public resents them, but they seem oblivious to the cause and effect of their behavior, such as that described here.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Australia I Reckon

It's a troubling time to live in America.

Everything has seemingly gone perfectly to plan...if your plan is that of the diabolical Neocons, Wall Street, and the big banks.

We seem to be in remarkable peril of Donald Trump becoming the next President, all rational contraindications notwithstanding (Note: most human beings do not behave rationally). The alternative to Trump, Hillary Clinton, is an avowed neoliberal (don't let the word "liberal" in the moniker mislead you...neoliberalism is an economic philosophy based on laissez faire free market principles, formerly known as "trickle down economics") and a Democrat in name only. If she wins the Democratic nomination for President, which it looks like she might, Americans will have to choose between a far right wing radical Republican (Trump) and a moderate right wing Democrat. The entire left side of the political spectrum - where most of my values lie - will be completely disenfranchised without the appearance of a new progressive third party (a very unlikely possibility).

For the first time in my life, I am actually giving serious consideration to getting the hell out of this crumbling empire. I've joked about it before, but things have gotten really real when a bigoted, thin skinned con man like Trump is the most viable Republican candidate for President. Just that fact alone makes it clear that America has lost its way, and that's very dangerous.

Being 1/2 Australian, expatriating myself from the USA is not especially difficult. I have dual citizenship and can travel to Australia, the country of my birth, freely with my Aussie passport (as well as New Zealand) for a couple grand $US. That being said, it's still a bit disconcerting to think about pulling up roots and relocating "down under." But if Donald Trump becomes President, I don't really see staying in the US as a safe or viable option and will attempt to implement PLAN B, as I call this emergency escape plan.

I'd relocate to Melbourne, Victoria, AUS, mostly because it is the city I am most familiar with, having traveled there several times, but also because it has the honor of being "the world's most livable city," according to the people who make such determinations (Note: how can I land that job?).

The much more difficult aspect of PLAN B's implementation would be convincing my life partner Deborah to join me in expatriating for an indeterminate period of time (probably five years at a minimum). Deborah has strong family ties and has told me it would be difficult to move too far away from them. We have a strong, close relationship but I would be hesitant to put undue strain on it, for when the chips are down, I am not certain where mine would fall, but I suspect unfavorably.
Even if she agreed to give it a shot, there is the question of if and how Deborah could reside in Australia, not having the perk of dual nationalities like me. Deborah and I are likely to become domestic partners before year's end. Notwithstanding Australia's 21st century egalitarian society, I have no idea if Australia recognizes American domestic partnerships or what the rules are for getting a domestic partner naturalized there. Though that may be the biggest hurdle to overcome, it seems likely that the process, if one exists, would be logical, even if complex.

Getting Deborah to embrace such a major life shift would surely have a much less rational solution, probably mostly bereft of logic. When we have briefly discussed the matter frivolously, in what we call our "hypothetical future" nonbinding discussions, she says she has to visit Australia and see what it's like before she could ever consider moving there. So that's hopeful. It means the option is, however tenuously, on the proverbial table. Unfortunately, circumstances preclude us vacationing there before the November 2016 general election.

That being said, I think we should schedule a vacation to Australia for late 2016 or early 2017. By then we should know who the next President is likely to be. If it looks grim (Trump), perhaps we just...oh, I don't know...not come back?

These are just hypotheticals.

Already Doomed

People say "we can't let Trump get elected" because it spells doom for America.

Let me tell you something. America has been doomed for a while now. Just the fact that Trump can become a viable Presidential nominee should illustrate how doomed we already are.

Lizards

I can recommend the Winking Lizard restaurant in Peninsula OH. It's situated along the Cuyahoga River (yeah, the one that caught on fire in the 70s, but has since been revitalized) and is a launch point for bike rides along the scenic Towpath bike trail that runs beside the Ohio Erie Canal lock and damn system. The only possible downside is that it also sits next to the Peninsula Depot, a stop for the Cuyahoga Valley train line. Having opted to sit in the outdoor patio of the restaurant, we were briefly subjected to a loud train horn and a generous cloud of diesel engine smoke. Notwithstanding, the establishment still gets high marks.

Mostly Vegetarian

I'm not a vegetarian, but I have decided to be "mostly vegetarian." When I am hungry, I am going to try to make or buy vegetarian options whenever possible, and eat smaller portion sizes when it's not. Conversely, I'm not going to worry if I unknowingly or inadvertently consume a meat byproduct, nor am I going to go hungry when carnivory is the only choice. I care about the planet and meat consumption is extremely hard on the environment, especially in the USA. If we don't collectively reduce meat consumption, meat production will become unsustainable and we'll be forced to reduce meat consumption anyway. I am being proactive. If I tried to be a full fledged vegetarian, I'd likely fail, then subsequently give up. Taking this less extreme middle of the road approach is a very obtainable goal because it has elasticity built in to adapt to changing circumstances. I care about animals too, especially after working for Standard Process, a vitamin company in Palmyra WI that practices unnecessary animal testing and uses animal organs in its products. But my main impetus for being "mostly vegetarian" is caring about my own species and increasing its tenure on the planet by conserving land, air, water, and other natural resources. I can't change anyone else's beliefs or behavior, only my own, but if everyone did just a little shrinking of their ecological footprints, it would have dramatic effects on quality of life and long term survival of humanity. For example, if all the cars driven in the USA could double their gas mileage tomorrow, dependence on foreign oil would pretty much cease to exist.

Every American is an Ambassador of America

While it's true that American politicians don't represent most of the American populace anymore, empirically speaking, the rest of the world doesn't know that. That's why it is really important that Americans traveling overseas don't behave like douchebags or idiots or both when interacting with people from other countries, even if the other person is themselves a douchebag and/or idiot. Always keep to the higher ground and be nice. The return on investment from being nice, particularly when coupled with real or perceived intellect, is always much greater than that from being mean or bullying. Avoid American ethnocentrism and try to understand and appreciate other cultures, especially if those cultures have been around a helluva lot longer than ours. Americans are not better than anyone else, just different. If you believe America is the greatest country in the world or that you, simply as a consequence of being American, are better than people from other parts of the world, keep those beliefs to yourself, both implicitly and explicitly. When you understand people from other cultures, you come across as a more understanding and considerate person, pretty much by definition. Everyone hates a douchebag.

060316 Op Ed

I could tell you why Donald Trump is so ridiculously popular with fearful, hateful, right wing drama kings (mostly) and queens. But the truth is the return on investment in doing so is so low as to make the endeavor a waste of my time.

Plenty of pundits have it more or less right. But factual correctness is an insignificant variable in this election. This election is dependent almost entirely on emotion, and specifically negative emotion (fear/hate). We know that strong emotion trumps (literally, no pun intended) rational thought in almost every case (take for example when Creationists say they would still reject evolution, even if all the science conclusively proved it). The corporate mainstream media is lost at sea and ratings drive their irresponsible coverage of Donald Trump. We live in a "reality TV" society now, quite possibly by design, and media consumers crave melodrama, even from news sources that are supposed to be objective and rational.

Political races have devolved into a choice between lowest common denominator candidates that mostly appeal to no one. That should be a clue that the system is broken and has been for a long time.

I'm not a Trump alarmist because I want to believe our three branch political system of checks and balances works even when an orangutan is in charge of the Executive branch. That being said, it didn't work especially well the last time we had a subhuman primate in charge (George W. Bush's father still sighs and shakes his head whenever he thinks about his son's tenure at the helm of the USA).

If Bernie Sanders doesn't miraculously win the Democratic nomination, I will be a fully disenfranchised voter, part of the apathy voter bloc. Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal corporatist, farther right on the political spectrum than Ronald Reagan was, and a Democrat in name only. She was once a registered Republican and that does not sit well with me. I may have basically three options come the general election. I can stay home and not vote, letting a small proportion of eligible voters decide the future of America for me. This is probably the best option as far as my friends placing blame on me for the outcome, though my one vote is virtually valueless even in a close election (because of the archaic Electoral College). However, I like to vote. It's my only voice in democracy and I try to leverage it as best I can. That leads to the second option. To wit, I can vote for a third party, such as the Green Party, that better fits my values on issues. I did this for the 2012 presidential election, and President Obama beat "Mittens" Romney in spite of my "throwaway" vote. A case can be made that Hillary Clinton has an obligation to beat Donald Trump handily without my vote, and this option leverages my vote to that end. So that begs the question...if Clinton should and must beat Trump, shouldn't I just grin and bear it and throw my vote at Clinton. That's my third option and also the most distasteful. My vote has value and it has to be legitimately earned. If I vote for Clinton, I am devaluing my vote. I don't want to do that and the only reason I would is if it looks like the election will be perilously close. There is a fourth option, though it's a very improbable one. I could write in a vote for Bernie Sanders, thus joining the protest voter bloc. Call it option 2b. I cannot make a compelling case for this option, especially if Sanders supports Clinton after bowing out of the race.