Category Archives: Cheap Eats

Horses, Hubris and Economics 101

This morning I read a short essay written by a fellow I know, Joseph Pearce.  He is a very decent fellow and, I like to think, a friend.  Not only that, he is smart; smart enough to know when folks aren’t.  Also, he is kind enough to let them know the truth about themselves.  He’s classy enough, too, to do it in such a classy way that only the dummy will know who he or she is.  One hopes that brings about the necessary reform.  But, dummies can be stubborn.

I read his article, titled What Is Economics, which appears in an online journal called The Imaginative Conservative and I think of an old friend of mine who is dead nearly one year, now.  So, at least he is not old any longer.  He is as Rod Stewart sings, forever young, I pray

My friend was named Charlie.   Joseph Pearce’s article brings to my mind  some things about Charlie which I thought at the time were dumb things for him to do.  Alas, I was no Joseph Pearce, then, and I simply watched my friend.  Nor am I now, and would probably do the same thing, watch. Besides, it is too late.  It also makes me think about some things, big things, which I began thinking about a few years ago.  But more about that below.  For now, Charlie

We were friends from an early age.  Close friends, I would say, but not so close as we would call each other best friends or bosom buddies, or stuff like that.  We lived about a block or so away from each other on Bailey Avenue in The Bronx.  Charlie was, what can I say, an intense kind of guy, not quite driven, not possessed, but simply intense. Maybe, thinking about it, he was more a mule than a bulldog.  But he had bulldogian notions.   I won’t say he had no sense of humor, but, though he could get a joke, he couldn’t tell one.  He had a kind of sense of purpose instead.   It’s odd he would find a companion in me, who has lived an Un-Purposed Life for three quarters of a century.

We “knocked around:” with the other guys our age on the block, doing the things the other guys on the block, and guys all over the city, did back then; which included getting into trouble, too.  And, then, we started growing up.

One day he asked me to write a poem for him; to write a poem for a girl from Brooklyn he had met at a dance, a girl he wanted to impress.  Now, we lived in the Bronx, which at that time could as well have been in another galaxy, and this girl of another species entirely.  She was, I think, an Italian girl; so she really was a member of another species.  But, Charlie was determined, even if getting to Brooklyn took about as long as it took The Owl and The Pussycat to get to The Land Where the Bong Trees Grow; which I understand is a nice place.  I hope to visit it someday.  I will probably find out I have already been there.  A lot.

Well, I wrote the poem.  Charlie began a weekly odyssey to Brooklyn under the tunneled streets and under the tunneled river, and under God knows where else.  He surfaced from time to time back among us and often asked for the loan of a buck or two for his trips to a Strange Land.  We gave of our surplus to supply his want.  What are friends for?  One day Charlie announced that he had found a better way, he would need our help no longer to visit his Brooklyn doll.  He had found the horses, and happy days were here again!

I am not going into all the details, but you know them already, don’t you.  We were in college then, me at Manhattan College. which was foolish enough to give me a scholarship, and Charlie at Fordham University.  He studied accounting and I studied English, a language I already knew, so I figure I do not have to do anything, a thing I still know how to do about better than anyone else.  I know how to do it certainly better than anything else I know how to do, which anyone will tell you is not much.

Charlie spends most of his time at school in Accounting classes learning how to develop a system to beat the horses, which have become a nearly full time occupation, and we begin to lose contact, to drift apart and finally lose sight of each other as the horizon intervenes.  Before that happens, he tells me that he is doing this by using statistics, which I do not now understand, and never will, but which he say is very very necessary for winning horse races and figuring whether it will rain in July , or whether it will be good to buy or sell almost anything. It’s part of Economics, he says.

I do not understand.

There is a term that is used in the NYPD to describe people who gamble for a living.  They are called a Degenerate Gambler; and I used to see the initials DG next to a lot of guys when I riffed through the police records looking for one bad guy or another, one clown or another in whom I took a professional interest.  I do not know if Charlie ever earned his DG patch.  Gosh, I hope not.  He was a man, for all that, and deserved better

But I remember, though, the several times before the sea between us was too wide, when he showed my his “books” the ledger he had on just about every horse at every track in the country.  He was sure he would develop a foolproof system.  He would have been the first if he had; which he didn’t.  But, I was impressed with his dogged devotion to the task, and the fire of the true believer in his eyes.

I asked him what of all these columns and numbers was most important for success.  “It’s all statistics,” he answered.  “Like batting averages?”  Batting averages were about the only thing I knew about statistics then, and still know now.  I listened to statistics about horses, and jockey weight, and the weather on race days, and stuff like that which Charlie said mattered while I drank his beer.  Then, I left.

While in college I was tempted to take a course in psychology, but shied away when I was told by the catalogue I needed to take a course in statistics.  I think that my experience with my friend may have had something to do with that also.  Anyway, Mr. Pearce’s article makes a point about economics, and whence the discipline comes; about which I had known nothing.  He binds it to philosophy, a thing which it definitely doesn’t resemble today.  I mean, philosophy requires more than “doing the numbers”, and is about more than that, the truth, for one thing.  But, Economics is, I kind of think, statistics dressed up.  Simple statistics can as the saying goes, lie; or lead one to that, a lie.  And so can Economics, which someone once told me is sort of “Anyone’s guess.”

Here is the other thing I am thinking about because of Mr. Pearce’s article.  The other night I watch President Trump talk to Congress and the rest of us.  You all know what he says by now, and think what you think about what he says. I don’t pay too much attention to that.  But one little part interests me.  That’s the part where he says they get rid of NAFTA, and they are going after this Pacific thing where we all get in a circle and deal straight up.

I say “Yippee!” to myself when I hear that.  And you know why?  It’s because economists and politicians, and millionaire business men, and one world maniacs think that there’s nothing better in the world than free trade.  They think this so fervently that they don’t see Detroit becoming a desert, and drugs becoming a number one commodity in places where folks once could make an honest living making shirts, shoes, pants, desks, chairs and what all from Maine to Mississippi.

And that was because the market analysis told them everyone would rise on the rising tide of free trade.  Well except the ones who couldn’t swim.  Swimmers love a rising tide.  little folks drown, or go on welfare, or to war, in the mud.  Turns out that NAFTA really was anyone’s guess.

Statistics don’t care, and Economics don’t either.  What the hell, there’s always welfare and surplus peanut butter.

You gotta get close to folks.  The corner store’s the best.

 

 

 

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Doughnuts and Beer: A Story of the Golden Age

Here is a story I wrote some time ago, a story about an incident that took place quite a while before I wrote it down.  Every word is true:

DONUTS AND BEER: A STORY OF THE GOLDEN AGE

A long long time ago, me and Dennis and Bobby had finished up at Toolan’s Bar on Broadway under the El (not a Hebrew word for G-d).  The places closed at 3:00am on Sunday mornings as many of you may know only because it was the law in New York City.  The three of us, and quite a few more sons of Sons of Ireland, had been in there getting fluorescent light burns from early the previous evening. talking about this and that, ball games and ball peen hammers, dying Englishmen and dead Irishmen, sirens (police and female) and song, truth and not-so-truth from early the previous evening….and drinking huge amounts of beer.

Such work can cause in one a huge appetite.  It was in the knowledge of this fact of biology that Arthur had established his diner in the midst of a nest of many such places as Toolan’s Bar on Broadway, within which would gather of a night many of the same kind of yours trulys.  The lights dimmed inside, last call had long ago disappeared into our waiting beer swollen bellies and we, perhaps a bit unsteadily, went into the dark outside; the silent pre-dawn streets, the setting of many of film-noir.  As overhead trains rumbled by overhead, carrying the earliest or the latest to their destinations, from out the other places came small groups of kin, all headed for Arthur’s and a hearty breakfast, a worker’s breakfast, a drinking worker’s breakfast.

Now, it is a law of the universe, as fixed as the law of gravity, or any of Newton’s axioms of thermodynamics, that after three drinks everything is a great idea.  All of us were more than ready to propound greatness, then, by orders of magnitude; to advance humanity any number of steps on its path to glory, or whatever.  And all of us were ready, well oiled as it were, for adventure. I cannot remember who of us said it, but all of us saw the simple, and thus beautiful, symmetry in exchanging, not money, but doughnuts, with Arthur for our breakfast.  In a moment we would repay him in kind for the many good things his amazingly talented short order cook, and his tough but beautiful waitresses would prepare and serve us.  And, we would provide our friends and neighbors with the grease and fat their alcohol soaked systems craved at this time of the morning; and the sugar fueled energy to see them home to waiting mothers and fathers, or wives and daughters.  This was an Irish crowd, may I remind you, and damn near celibate where its drinking life was concerned.

It came to us, this equation of mathematical beauty, because God, in His infinite wisdom, had ordained from eternity that across the street, and just a bit north of Arthur’s now brightly lit and crowded diner there should be an A&P supermarket.  Furthermore, He had so ordered the universe, and arranged its constituent molecules, atoms and sub atomic particles that, at the very time we were conceiving this great idea, a delivery truck was being emptied of its cargo of delicious Ann Page donuts in a plethora of styles and flavors.  Large skids piled with trays containing dozens of boxes of dozens of freshly baked donuts were being placed before us only mere yards away.

Dennis, who toiled as a clerk in some many windowed office building far to our south in Manhattan, and had a head for such figures, quickly calculated that one of those skids held trays containing five hundred dozen donuts.  Bobby, a scholar, was able to compute further that five hundred dozen donuts would be a very even exchange for three of Arthur’s special breakfasts of bacon, eggs, delicious home fries,  juice, coffee and toasted english muffins.  Bobby would go on to make a lot of money in the commodities market I believe.  I was able to see that the truck driver was pulling away and leaving at least twenty of these skids on the street…by themselves.

With catlike grace and cunning, and with equal amounts of charity and hunger motivating us, we approached the outlying skids and culled the nearest one to push to our destination. It was so easy.  And that only confirmed us in our purpose.  Had it been more difficult, it would not have seemed God’s own work we thought at the time.  Simplicity, symmetry and beauty obtained.  It was, as we were well used to hearing in liturgical rhythm, “..right and proper, and helpful for our salvation…”

Such a good feeling to be fostering a cure for hunger prevailed among us that none of us noticed our company as we pushed the nearly six foot high skid down Broadway and across the street toward Arthur’s diner, and the now gathering crowd of, no doubt, doughnut hungry and appreciative late drinkers/early eaters.  “Excuse me, lads, where are you going with that?”  The question could only have come from someone so uninspired as to be sober at this time of day.  Or to be what in fact he was, a cop.  Dennis, ever helpful, answered truthfully, “We’re taking them to Arthur’s and exchanging them for breakfast.”

The prowl car stopped.  We had already stopped pushing our cargo.  The policeman, and his partner driving, looked at us.  “Get in the car,” said the officer, reaching behind him and opening the door.  We were good boys.  We were Catholic youth.  More to the point, we were Irish-Catholic youth and this was an Irish-Catholic cop speaking to us.  It might as well have been God.  As a matter of fact there was no discernible difference.

We got in.

We got in and arranged ourselves in the back seat, Dennis whispering, “Shut up!  Don’t tell them a thing.”  I’d have none of that, I thought.  So, to the first query of, “Just where the hell were you going?”, I answered, “Down to Arthur’s to trade some donuts for breakfast, as my good friend said.”  At about that time we were passing in front of the very same place on our way to the 50th Precinct, then a quiet little Station House in the North Bronx, a refuge for burn-outs from more active houses; a “rubber gun” squad as the term of art had it.

The two in front passed the rest of the trip in silence.  The three in back, now that the truth was out, were busy plotting defenses.  We all figured that 500 dozen donuts was, as they say in drug law enforcement circles, felony weight. What we had in our favor was the good we intended to do with them; a fact pointed out by Dennis.  That, and the fact that no one of us yet had been arrested was a cold comfort, though

Arriving at the Precinct, we were escorted out of the car past a very bored Desk Sergeant  into a large room with a long table, not unlike a corporate conference room, and told to sit tight.  Our captors both left.  Immediately, Bobby suggested an escape. I said it would be just the thing they were waiting for.  They were probably just outside the door waiting for one of us to crack it open and try a “run” for it.  I was having none of it.  Nor was Dennis.  He, suddenly filled with legal knowledge and eloquence, said that our chances “looked good” for an early release…whatever that was.  He intended to tell the officers that they had arrested us falsely and were in great danger of a civil law suit, if not arrest and imprisonment themselves.  (It was the early 60’s and a lot of that stuff was beginning to be heard.)  I prayed he wouldn’t.

Shortly, one of the officers returned. He said that they had contacted the A&P store manager, and he had sent out someone from the store to retrieve the skid on which our unexchanged “breakfast” was. We had left it on the sidewalk upon being invited to drive up to the precinct house with the officers.

Dawn was breaking now, the sky turning rosy pink over the Bronx High School of Science on the other side of the Kingsbridge Reservoir from us. Dennis was demanding that he be read his rights, and Bobby was refusing to say anything, to anybody.  He was infuriated at having his escape attempt thwarted.  I was thanking God that it was early on a Sunday morning, the cops were tired and didn’t seem to want to take anyone down to the County Courthouse.  I kissed a little butt and said that in the dawning light and growing sobriety what we had done was a pretty stupid thing to do.

That seemed to make everybody happy, everybody on the “other” side that is. My buddies looked at me like I was a quisling.  The officers left the room, and I tried to explain myself, my craven behavior.  No use.

Returning with the Desk Sergeant in tow now, we were subjected to a short lecture on how close we had come, and how lucky we were.  He was right, really.  I think that fact began to dawn on both Dennis and Bobby, who were returning to sobriety a bit more slowly than I was.

I expected then that, as the Sergeant got angrier, he’d give us a smack. He was a big guy, and I didn’t fancy one of those ham sized fists bouncing off the side of my now aching head.   But no, our luck held.  “Get them outta here,” he ordered, and the other two officers gathered us up and took us back out to the car.

Now, this was a change. I was no stranger to the 50th Precinct.  On previous such occasions I had been, more or less politely, shown the door. “Now the beating comes,” I thought.  I figured Dennis and Bobby were thinking the same thing as the door was held open and we sat in the back seat once again, silent as the car started back down the hill towards Broadway and Arthur’s and the A&P.  Perhaps we were going to be taken back to the scene and made to apologize to the store manager.  Strangely enough I even thought that maybe the cops were going to make us buy them breakfast?

We rode on in silence.  Past Broadway and up 231st Street going west  for two blocks to the next traffic light.  We made a left and proceeded slowly down the street for about a hundred yards.  We stopped in front of St. John’s Church.  The officer in front of me on the passenger side got out and opened the door.  It was nearly 6:00am and the first Mass would soon begin.

The three of us got out of the prowl car and walked to the curb.  We turned and looked at the two cops, now back in the car and looking back at us.  Nothing was said as the one nearest us waved slightly and smiled.  We knew what we had to do.

All three of us made it to confession before Mass began.

Several years after Special Agent Frank Shannon, a former NYPD Detective was doing my background for my entry into the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.  He asked me if I had ever been arrested and I told him the Great Donut Robbery story.  Frank smiled, then he laughed softly and said, ” You’re lucky.  It probably wouldn’t happen now.  There’s too many judges today. They need the work.”

Frank is dead now.  The other two cops may be dead also.  Every once in a while I remember them and say a prayer that God is as merciful to them as they were to three jerks one Sunday morning in the Bronx about forty years ago.

PEG
3/17/01

WHY NOT THE MOUSE NEXT TIME???

Somewhere around this time last year, as Mitt Romney was in the third year of his second run for the presidency, and the Republican field had been narrowed to the population of several states from a number just a few short of infinity I decided that it might be necessary actually to vote for someone who existed, who was a real person.  And so, I thought about voting for Mr. Romney, tall, handsome, smart and honest.

I had not voted for a human being in the last two elections; choosing instead to vote for Michael Mouse.  I had even dreamed up a slogan for the little fellow’s campaign: MY MAN IS A MOUSE!  I spoke to my friends, and may have convinced one or two of them (which would have been, possibly, more than I had of friends) to join in with me and promote MM’s run for the highest office in the land.

But, then, I listened to other voices, people whose powers of persuasion moved me to reconsider my position.  “It is silly,” they said, “you are just throwing away your vote by going into that booth and writing in the name of a cartoon character.  It is a senseless and meaningless gesture.”  I tried to argue that given the man occupying that office (who still occupies it) , and the fellow who had occupied it during the previous eight years, and the line -up of opponents/prospective candidates available, voting for someone who was a cartoon character seemed to me to make more sense than anything else.

Still..

In the end I caved, flipped a coin, sort of, and settled on Mr. America.  I guess I was thinking of that old song by the Coasters, “Along Came Jones”, and hoping he would get elected and rescue Sweet Sue (that’s us) from the gunslinger.

Little did I know that I should have stuck with Mickey.  At least I wouldn’t feel as if I had wasted a vote.  Because the word filtering out from the folks who know is that Old Mitt didn’t want the job anyway.  He tanked it.  And, we know from sad experience that the guy who has the job really doesn’t exist.  Oh, I mean he is there, all right, but he really has no idea about running a country, or doing much else than “chooming”, organizing a community (whatever in God’s name that is) or body surfing; or standing around while Ambassadors and other guys get murdered…and then not saying word one about it because the “investigation ” is still going on.  I mean his most common vote anywhere was “present”.  Well brain dead people are “present” too.  So are ghosts according to some folks.

Turns out they both stink.  If fact, they all stink, from Chicago Slim in the White House right down to the most junior jerk in the House of Representatives;  where about the only thing they represent is their own wallet, I think.

Anyway, I’m back on The Mouse’s bandwagon and there I intend to stay.  This morning I was having a cup of Joe with the Little Lady down at the local Dunkin’ Donuts.  There were a couple of old guys over in the corner jawing about the, how many, damn near 500 stupid and selfish men and women we send down to DC  to do nothing much good to or for anyone, and one of them says, “I’m 73 years old and I don’t think I am ever going to vote for another person for anything again.  I’m just going to go into the booth and scribble down a name, any name.”

My heart leaped!  If two old and nearly useless guys like him and me can have the same idea, what would it look like if 30 or 40 million of us went behind the curtain and did the same thing; if no one was elected, if the country actually followed the predictions of the polls and said, “None of the above?”  For anything, even School Board President, Dogcatcher, Registrar of Probate, President?

Because, you know, none of the folks there now seem to want to do anything at all about anything, and the guy we just sent back to the Oval Office hasn’t got the faintest idea about what needs doing, except that we need more money to do it.

Actually, I take that back.  It seems that one person does have a good idea, which idea won’t see the light of day down there.  The junior Senator from New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte says all of those dopes don’t deserve a pay raise because they haven’t done anything for it.  That’s the first bit of sensible thinking I’ve heard come out of that swamp in about 12 years.

Now, if only they would return all the rest of the money we’ve given them for the past 12 years I might reconsider my support for The Mouse.  I know all of that dough might make our fall from the cliff just a little bit softer, turn it into a kind of velvety “smoosh” rather than a granite hard “SPLAT” when we hit bottom.

One thing that can be said for The Mouse is that at least he works cheap; a couple of nibbles of cheese now and then and he’s good for a week.

Please Pass, Cough! Cough!, The Butter, Dear?

We live in a smallish town in New Hampshire, the Granite State.  The town is called Nashua and it rests on the border between us and The People’s Republic of Taxachusetts.  As with most places in America, the most powerful beings in the town are the automobiles.  The Peddlar’s Daughter and Martha’s Exchange are two restaurants in the center of town, one of the favorite places for automobiles to hang out.  This is a disquisition about restaurants, automoblies and rare aquatic creatures.  Some of it is true and actually happened…or happens.

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It was a couple of years ago this happened.  My wife and I were having a quiet lunch outside at the back of the Peddlar’s Daughter.  It was a lovely day in late Spring.  Or, was it early Summer.  No matter, the day was just fine, and the venue just fine, too.

Why, you are entitled to ask, did we choose to eat our lunch way back there away from the madding crowd?  The question provides its own answer.  I have sat at table in front of Martha’s Exchange on lovely evenings, and tried to carry on a conversation.  One gets distracted among the rumble of cars and trucks, the roar of Harleys and the sight of their middle aged riders’ unruly mullets, floppy tattooed arms bared to the shoulder under their leather vested colors.  And, that’s just the women bikers.  It is a problem to carry on a conversation above the roar.  It is worse, though, eating while wondering what delicious coating of petro-chemicals was softly descending onto my crusted salmon.

Lest you think I have an animus against Martha’s, please let me put you at your ease.  I do like the place very much, and especially enjoy their craft beers.  We need Martha’s.  We need The Peddlar’s, too, and all the other downtown venues.  But, you know, every time I drive in either direction on Main Street during the summer I feel two things.  I feel sorry for the folks outside trying to have a nice meal  in all of those nice places that line those few blocks, and I feel guilty about being there in my car among all the other vehicles spitting noxious gases, making indecent noises.  And, I think, there must be something we can do to make this a more congenial place.  After all, cars don’t vote.

That is why we chose the back of The Peddlar’s over the front where we could “be seen” and admired as we believe we should be.

I know that the folks down at City Hall have ordered up and darn near completed a bit of a makeover for that part of Main Street near Peddlar’s Daughter.  I happen to think they did a nice job.  The six lights give the bridge there a kind of 19th century retro look.  The granite posts, while they won’t prevent a terrorist in a bomb filled pick-up from crashing into the bridge and ruining river traffic for months, do remind me of hitching posts.  I see them and say, “You know, a horse drawn carriage would look good tied up along here.”  And, I day dream, imagining a scene from a Sherlock Holmes film.

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My wife and I escaped for a week long cruise up the Rhine a few weeks ago.  We stopped along the way in several old towns and cities.  I remember one sight among many pleasant ones.  In every one of these places, these old towns vehicular traffic is banned, more or less, from the center.  Town centers, town squares, are flooded with people.  Even in November, by God, the squares are full of restaurants and cafes with tables in front of them playing host to substantial numbers of customers enjoying coffee and other lovely things.  Alongside the cafes, and in between, shops carry on a brisk business.  Those places are people magnets, especially now, when they fill up with outdoor Christmas Markets; as I imagine they do regularly on other occasions throught the year.

The sight we saw?  That was in Cologne in the central square before the huge hundreds of years old cathedral.  There in the middle of the place, crowds of people flowing by it, was a Mercedes limousine, brand new, black and shiny; a vehicle of power and authority.  Inside of it was the driver…trapped.  He was trying to get off the square and could not move.  How he had gotten on was a mystery to me.  How he would get off was an even greater one.

Why not here as well as in Cologne?

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After we left our delightfully serene lunch in the back of The Peddlar’s Daughter that day, we strolled out along the walk and began to cross the bridge.  There were two couples, tourists obviously, taking pictures of each other on the bridge facing toward the old power station that is now Margarita’s.  Strolling by I asked one of the couples had they seen any of the “fresh water sharks” which inhabit the river.  “Sharks,” they said questiongly.  I nodded, and added in my most sincere voice that they swim upriver froim the Merrimack to spawn every summer.  These folks called their friends over to the rail as we walked on, leaving them to search for and get a picture of Nashua’s fresh water sharks.

I do happen to think they were satisfied in their quest though the Nashua River shark is a rare animal, but can’t help wondering how many sharks would return, and how many other animals with them, did we make some room for people downtown where now the automobile rules and roars.  Perhaps, we might see the very rare and very gentle New England Manatee again?

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime!

What is happening to Amurriker!!!

My heart is breaking.

The Senate has been shamed into refusing to allow both the democrats and the republicans henceforward to sponge 50 mil apiece from Uncle Sugar (read you and me) so they could whoop it up big every four years.

I’ve got nothing against them having conventions. Let ’em have one every weekend if that’s what they want. But, I sure don’t want what passes for a government of, by and for the people buying the drinks.  You go, Senate!

Breaks my heart, too, that the Dems, the dirty rats, are short another 30 mil or so and have to cut out the appetizers for their next party down in the Carolinas. No shrimp and bacon wrapped scallops. Boxed wine instead of bottled vintage for the Big Deals who already know what’s gonna happen, and no draft beers for the hoi polloi among them.  What to do, what to do, with all those pinkies in the air when there’s no crystal and all you’ve got is paper cups and pop top cans.  It’s enough to cause a nervous rash.

Chicken instead of steak, canned tuna salad instead of cold lobster.

It’s a damn shame!  But, they could probably serve something like fried kudzu, I s’pose.

Here is the link to the story about the poor Democrats.  You might want to dig down and come up with some pocket lint.  At least it’ll keep them warm, poor slobs.

Just Say No!

OK, ABC and Disney, Hollywood, Pepsi,the  Democratic Party, MSNBC, CNN, Fox, the other two nets, every newspaper in the country, and anyone who advertises in them or on TV, medical insurance, auto insurance, insurance insurance. It all stinks like fish gurry.  That’s what we’re being fed, and we think it’s filet mignon.

Are we really that stupid?  Have we really been such lousy pushovers?  Is it really the truth; that these guys have figured out that all we are is a bunch of stomachs, sexual organs and fat butts?  Seems like it.

No you say?  Prove it.

Don’t give them any of your time, and don’t spend any of your money on them.

Did I leave out anything?  Oh, yeah, the cable and satellite companies that carry alla that garbage into your home. Stop it all.  Cut it all out, the noise, the flash, the bling, the fly, the whatever the hell they come with next to make us forget that this is all a big swindle.

That’s gonna leave many of us with a lot of loose change and an awful lot of time on our hands. Try reading a book.  Try reading a good book.  Take a walk.  Actually have a conversation about something other than baseball or your nails and hair.  Put the money in a shoe box or a bank and forget about it.

Hey!  Here’s an idea.  Why not spend the time saying a prayer for the state of the world, these Untied States and our own poor selves.  And, another idea just occurred to my mind.  Why not use some of that new found money to help some folks; like folks with time on their hands because they have no work to do.  Or, folks with time on their hands because they never had any work to do, or because they can’t work…or hungry folks…or sick folks.  You know?

And, if or when the suits in the big buildings wake up and find everyone’s left the room,  and they come outside and say, “Hey!  OK, we screwed up.  Sorry.  Come on back.”  And their hands are out in supplication, and they’re smiling pleadingly, why not everyone say, “Nah, find another sucker.”  And, try finding an honest job while you’re at it.

‘Cause you know what all of this is, don’t you?  It’s “Bread and Circuses”, where the Big Deals figure out how to keep the lid on, keep the schmucks (that’s you Mr. and Mrs. America) happy so they never figure out how lousy life is; they never figure out that they are owned, bought and paid for in the greatest swindle since the original Bread and Circus deal back there in Rome.  Did you see the movie Matrix?  You’re in it.  I’m in it.

We’re all in it.

Wake up.

Walk away.

Just sayin’.

Nah, That Can’t Never Happen Here —. You Think?

Abstract

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

This is an abstract from something called The Journal of Medical Ethics.  I have long ago reached the conclusion  that the proper and legal definition of an ethicist of any stripe is : “A person who, for a nice fat fee, will tell you that whatever you wish to do, no matter how bizarre, repugnant, illegal, immoral or fattening, you may do. ”

“That?  Sure, you can do it.  That’ll be $250.00.  Pay my girl Nausea on the way out.  No checks without two forms of picture ID, please.  Next!”

There’s an article here.  You can read a bit more about the story…if you have the stomach for it.  But, all you really need to know is contained in the abstract from JME.  These guys love acronyms, and I want to please them.  At my age, I figure I’ll be next to be okayed for the trip to the Release center.  Oh, wait, I already have that “right”.

It would take a more sober, reasoned and smart person than me to look at that abstract and take it apart bit by bit; exposing it for the outrageously smug, insipid and stupid thing that it is.  I simply want to blow it up, and punch out the authors, the editors and anyone vaguely connected with the thing.  I can probably get a bunch of ethicists to tell me that it’s the epitome of ethics to do so.

But, I won’t do that.  For one thing I haven’t got the plane fare to Australia.  I’m wondering, now though, if its ethical to ask for donations.  Hmmm.

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While I was sitting here trying to get the best of my gag reflex a couple of things occurred to my mind.  I imagined a couple of scenes from the near future:

The first is a quiet little corner in Portland, OR, the place first in love with death here in the Untied States.  It’s about 6:00pm on a lovely day in May.  The sound of a garage door closing is heard and then the door opens into a bright, neat, modern kitchen.  A young woman stands  at the central work station obviously preparing something for the evening meal.  She smiles as a tall slim fellow walks through the door and gives her a hug and a kiss.

YW:  Sorry, Brutus, my hands are so yucky.  I’ve been working all afternoon on this.  I thought we’d have something special.  I hope you’ll like it.

YM:  That’s just fine Gladiola.  I’ll fix us a drink.  Where’s Benjie?

YW:  Oh, he’s probably asleep on the rug inside.  He had a busy day outside today running around chasing butterflies.

YM:  I love that little fella.  So, what’s for supper?

YW:  Well you know we had to decide today…

YM:  Oh, yes.  So did you?  I would have been happy to stay home, but BIFFING Steel has this big job they were interested in having us handle and Smothersworth wanted me to look it over.  I was out there all day.  Sorry I’m a little late.  Anyway, it looks like we’ll take it, and you know what that means.”

YW:  Oh, now we can go to Fiji for my sister’s wedding t0 Allred.  It’s her 7th and it means so much, and I can wear that lovely thing I have been so wanting to ever since..”

YM:  Honey, isn’t that sauce…?

YW:  (Looking over at the stove.)  Oh, no, everything’s fine.  I’ll just need you to get the lumps out later.  Anyway, I really didn’t need you today.  I spoke with Polonia across the street.  She said I could do it myself, everyone does these days.  So I did.  It was so easy and kind of fun.

YM:  Oh, here’s the dog!  Hey Benjie, you lucky guy.  I wish I had your life chasing butterflies all day long.  C’mere you little dickens.

YW:  Anyway, afterward, I cleaned it and prepared it for tonight’s supper.  I used Polonia’s mother’s recipe since you liked it so much when we had it over there for the 4th of July last year.

YM: Great!  I’ll make us a drink, now and get outta this straight jacket.  Hey, what are you gonna call your version of the dish?

YW:  Well we were going to name it Bobbie before we decided it would really be funner in Fiji, so I’m calling it Bobbicued Kid.

YM:  (Laughing and petting the dog)  That’s great.  I love your sense of humor.  I hope we have plenty of leftovers.

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And, here is the second scene:

“Good morning, East Bluegill Public Works Department.”

“Hello.  Is this where I arrange for a trash pickup.”

“Yes, Ma’am.  What is it?”

“I have a dead kid in my refrigerator.  I did it this morning, and I want it out.  I’ve got some shopping to do this afternoon and need the room.  I checked and I can’t bury it out side where we put Sniggles last year.”

“No, your right.  Besides raccoons might dig it up and leave a mess.”

“I don’t want that for sure.  When can you come?”

“Just wrap it good in some plastic and leave it by the curb before 6:30 tomorrow morning.  Or, if you want, you can bring it to the dump before 5 this afternoon.  Anyway.  Whatever’s easier for you.”

“I think I just leave it at the curb.  Thank you.”

“No problem.”

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You may want to write to the JME, I don’t know.  I though of doing so and asking if they had any good recipes.