Dodging cars and people can make you think

June 26, 2009

It occured to me, while watching drivers and pedestrians random travel on the streets and sidewalks around me, that one big reason for rules and laws is so we can predict what other people will do.  This may explain why “different” = “bad” for so many people; “different” = “unpredictable”.  It would also explain culture shock, where people persist in doing things that your experience tells you they shouldn’t.  Sort of like cultural jet lag.  You’re never too old for banal insights!


The culture of “entitlement”

June 22, 2009

Coming in this morning, half-awake, I hear a radio ad for some lawyer firm that’s looking to make a lot of money off people facing foreclosure.  One phrase stood out even through the morning sogginess – “we’ll help keep your property yours”.  So, here’s a situation where people who haven’t paid off their debt and can’t keep up the payments are losing “their” property.  Boy, when I first bought a car and took out a loan, it was made very clear that the car actually belonged to the bank until I paid it off and got the title.  I have to believe that either the lawyers know this and are deliberately lying to desperate people, or that they don’t know this and are therefore unfit to practice this area of law.  Or, I suppose, that the laws have changed and now whatever you buy is yours when you put down the first penny, and the rest of the financial transaction is simply a favor the the lender.  Or something.  Reminds me of listening to Reagan during the Iran-Contra treason episode – either he didn’t know what was going on, in which case he was unfit to be President, or he did know and was deliberately lying to Congress, in which case he was unfit to be President.  Funny how he became a saint to the right-wing, although it explains a lot about the now-traditional Republican culture of amorality and immorality.  What Nixon began, Reagan sanctified and the last President codified into law.


June 14, 2009

I heard something yesterday evening I never thought I’d hear.  A young woman’s voice saying “Stop browsing and pick something out!”   I instantly recognized, however, that my stereotypes and prejudices could remain intact. as this took place in a beer store and she was addressing the young men she was with.

Are people born this stupid, or do they have to work at it?

June 12, 2009

This whole David Letterman/Sarah Palin thing is so typically asinine that it’s stunning.  A deliberate misunderstanding of a stupid joke, simply so that there can be a wild, frenzied 3-minute hate for idiots.   I think what I find the most disturbing is the gleefully self-aware attitude that the agitators have.  They’re like a bunch of overgrown Bart Simpsons but without Bart’s class, intelligence and wit (such as he has).  They know that they’re simply lying to get the crowd riled up, but they not only don’t care, they want to go further.  This is how these vicious swine operate, and if their goading leads to somebody getting hurt or even killed, of course, they’ll put on their finest shocked pious expressions and deny any involvement, even if it means bare-faced lying about their own words.  They bring shame to their families, though they have none themselves.

Sidewalk vignettes, part 1

June 12, 2009

So, driving back from dropping off the younger boy at a friend’s, and I chance to see a little story in action.  A very small, very pretty, very agitated young woman stalking jerkily back and forth next to her parked car, hands and arms flinging out and snapping back.  In front of her, a very tall young man with a very stupid look on his face, as if somebody had just dropped an anvil on his head, is following her with his eyes, but otherwise not moving at all.  I almost stopped to plead his case with her, sight unseen, but luckily thought better of it.  More harm than good, most likely, but I know that look (at least by feel – usually there’s no mirror when I find myself wearing it).

It was inevitable, of course

June 12, 2009

Today I got the notice that it was time for the approximately annual changing-of-the-password ritual at work.  It seems that each time this aggravating transfer of computing power takes place, the rules about what cannot be acceptable become increasingly Byzantine.  Sure enough, this time, between the increased variety of word length, number of numeric characters and number of previous choices unavailable, I found myself stymied for over five minutes and finally left with a password which I am convinced I will not be able to remember for more than a half hour.  What is the point?  Now I have a password that I have to have written down so that I will be able to do my job, despite the fact that this presumably makes it measurably more likely that it will be stolen.  Once again, I’m living Mugato’s life: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!”

On the good side, though, we had a couple interesting beetles just now on the windows up here – on the outside, there was one of the thin borers, a yellow-and-black wasp-like beetle sort of reminiscent of an Elder Borer.  I think I’ll call it a Younger Borer, after Cole Younger, who was notoriously unexciting at parties.  Meanwhile, on the inside and just a couple of feet away, there was a sort of darkish, almost orange, Firefly-looking beetle.  The resemblance was almost uncanny, what with the blocked-in greasepaint moustache, the heavy, waggling eyebrows and the ever-present cigar.  All we needed was a large, buxom Dumont Beetle nearby, gasping in shock, to make the similarity complete.  I don’t know what either of them actually were, but I have to say that I don’t actually care that much.

There and Back Again

June 11, 2009

A nice trip down to the Valley over the last couple days, with the driving the usual mix of enthusiastic incompetence and frenzied insanity.  Toward the end of the trip back, as I approached the beltway, a rather vigorous band of thunderstorms arose in front, and I had to fight my way through them, laughing patronizingly at those weaker drivers who hauled out at the side of the road until the worst of the downpour had eased.  I believe that you don’t gain much by pulling aside, as you’re not any more visible to oncoming drivers on the shoulder (so you’re less likely to hit anybody, but someone else is more likely to hit you..) and invariably the downpour changes to only a spattering of rain just a few hundred feet further on.  There are risks, of course, but then there are risks to anything up to and including sticking your face in a fan.

The trip itself had its pleasant moments – sitting on the front porch in the early morning, I was a bit startled to see 2 large black birds that at first glance I thought might be odd-flying Black Vultures, but immediately saw were in fact Ravens, being chivvied by a Crow.  Nice ironical touch, and to add the final detail, the rear Raven (who was receiving the Crow’s attentions) gave several plaintive croaks as they passed overhead and out of sight.  I hadn’t realized that Ravens were found in the relative lowlands of the Shenandoah Valley, but there it is.  Then, towards the end of the drive, as I left the Beltway on the southeastern corner of The Jewel Of The Patapsaco [sic], a couple of large-ish herons came flying across the off-ramp through the gathering dusk, and I realized that they were Black-crowned Night Herons, which I hadn’t seen in some years, on their way to their harbor hunting areas.   And so, to bed.