Category: opinion

Blasphemy Galore

An unfortunate man in Pakistan, named Taimoor Raza, was recently sentenced to death for posting blasphemous content on Facebook against the Prophet Muhammed and his two wives. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/world/asia/pakistan-blasphemy-sentence.html?_r=0

I didn’t see the posts, so I have no idea just how blasphemous this content is. But when I read news stories like this, I feel very glad to be an American. Here, we can blaspheme to our heart’s content, and face no legal consequences.

I follow no religion, but I am kind of sympathetic toward Buddhism. Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to know that you and I can say something like “Fuck the Buddha!” and not risk going to jail.

But this is mainly a Christian country. Just the same, we can also say, “Fuck Jesus!”, and not risk jail or execution. America. What a country!

I support Taimoor Raza. And as a show of support, I’m going to commit all kinds of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammed (and his two whoring wives). This is for you, Taimoor:

The Prophet Muhammed is a dirty cocksucker. Not a clean cocksucker. A dirty one. He only likes the dirty cocks that have already been up his ass.

The Prophet Muhammed humps camels and eats pig shit.

The Prophet Muhammed beats his wives when they don’t share any of the money they’ve made from turning tricks.

The Prophet Muhammed is an atheist. (Ooh, that’s a real bad blasphemation.)

The Black Stone at the Kaaba is made out of the dried, hardened shit from the Prophet Muhammed. At one time it was much larger, but the Prophet ate most of it.

If you are an Islamic-American, I suspect you may feel rather disgusted from reading these blasphemous insults. I understand. But I believe that if you truly support our Constitution, you will wholeheartedly support my right to post this material.

It is not enough to just condemn terrorism.

Neither is it enough to just condemn what Pakistan is doing to Taimoor Raza.

If you want to convince me that you truly stand for the American way, you must strongly support my right to post this material.

And you must advocate for Taimoor Raza’s right to do what he did, in Pakistan.

Nice Guys

operation_castle_-_romeo_001

(A fictional account. So far.)

He could have saved the world today. But he didn’t. He could have reached over and grabbed the hand of that officer sitting next to him, before he made the fatal move. But that’s not the kind of guy he was.

No, in fact he was just like that officer. A nice guy. He made no waves. He respected authority and did what he was told. He complied with the established order. He lived his life trying to be as normal and humdrum as possible, in his every thought and action.

He was very nice.

So when the order came down to launch the preemptive nuclear strike, and he saw that the officer sitting next to him was going to comply with that order, he froze. In his mind, just for a split-desperate-second, he grabbed the officer by the arm and wrestled him to the floor. And saved the world. And his family. And himself.

But he quickly rejected that thought and braced himself for inevitable annihilation. Because he was just too nice a guy to do anything else.

Just like all the other nice guys who responded to orders today without question, but instead with a “Yes sir” or “Yes ma’am”.

And that is how the world came to an end today. Not at the hands of bad guys.

But at the hands of nice guys.

Our National Zzzz Debt

The election is almost here, and who the hell knows who’s going to win? But I think the loser will be our national debt. Neither Trump nor Clinton seem like they will do what it takes to lower our national debt.

Should we worry? I wasn’t sure, so I did some internet sleuthing to see if I could understand our national debt better.

According to http://www.usdebtclock.org/, the national debt is currently approaching 20 trillion dollars.

Are you bored yet? Yes? Okay, here’s a fun fact about the national debt. If you lay 20 trillion one-dollar bills end-to-end, they will wrap about three-quarters of the way around Donald Trump’s head. And they will nearly cover his mouth.

Who do you think our government owes the most money to? Did you answer China? If so, you get a big “nnnnnngggggg!!!”. You may have gotten that impression from listening to Donald Trump, but no, China is not our biggest creditor. But they are our biggest foreign creditor. We owe about 1.2 trillion dollars to that nation. A close second is Japan, who we owe 1.1 trillion dollars. Our total foreign debt is about 6.2 trillion dollars.

Actually the country our government owes the most to is the good ol’ USA. Our government borrows money from trusts owned by our government. This is called intergovernmental debt, and much of this borrowing is from the Social Security trust fund. We currently owe more than 6 trillion dollars to ourselves, with 3 trillion of that debt being owed to Social Security.

Aha! I caught you sleeping. So here’s another fun fact to keep you awake. The fiscal year 1835-1836 was the only year the U.S. Government has not been in debt. Which is the same year Bernie Sanders was born.

This guy was president the only time we had no national debt.

This guy was president the only time we had no national debt.

The best way to evaluate U.S. debt is as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product. Currently our public debt (which does not include intergovernmental debt) is at 77% of our GDP. But our total debt is about 106% of the GDP. Let’s check out Wiki, and look at total debt historically. Wait! Wake up!

Here’s a joke to get your eyes open. No? No more of my jokes? Y-you’d rather just slog through the dry facts? Well, shit. Okay.

In 1910, our ratio of total debt to GDP was just 8%. But by 1920, thanks to World War I, our percent of total debt to GDP had grown to 29%. But hey, war is hell and hell is expensive.

By 1930 it shrank to 17%. This was at the start of the Great Depression, which some say was triggered by tight monetary policies. But in 1940, thanks to Roosevelt’s New Deal, it had risen to about 48%. And in 1950, after World War II, the expenses of global warfare had caused the debt ratio to skyrocket to 92%.

But by 1980 it had shrank to 32%, thanks to three decades of high progressive income tax rates. However, those income tax rates were drastically reduced under President Reagan’s trickle-down economic plan of the 1980s, which cut the top tax rate from 70% to 28%. By the year 2000, our shrinking ratio of total debt to GDP had reversed course and risen to 56%.

In 2008, after Bush cut our taxes and started two wars, the ratio was up to 68%. Then the housing market collapsed and the Great Recession struck. The government moved in to bail out Wall Street and just two years later, in 2010, the percentage was towering at 92%, and rising.

Today it is at 106% of our GDP, thanks to whatever the hell happened this year. It had actually declined from 103% to 101% from 2014 to 2015. This year’s jump illustrates just how difficult it is to get our national debt under control.

I see no better way to control and reduce the national debt ratio other than to reintroduce the high progressive income tax rates of post-World War II. We can’t seem to cut our way out of this. Yet no major Presidential candidate other than Bernie Sanders has had the political balls to propose such a thing. And Bernie lost.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in 2009, that the United States is on a “fiscally unsustainable” path because of projected future increases in Medicare and Social Security spending. Their trust funds will run out of money, and the government won’t be able to pay back what it owes these funds.

Old folks often vote for politicians who promise lower taxes. Perhaps when they get hit with high medical bills and lower Social Security benefits, they’ll change their tune.

Wait a second, I’m one of those old folks.

Expect to see me right there at the forefront of the new, old-fogie revolution. I’ll be pushing politicians to raise taxes on the rich, and get our national debt under control.

If, by that time, I’m not dead.

Okay I’m finished now. WAKE UP!!

Down and Out

My down comforter has leaked feathers for years, gradually losing its amazing thermal insulating power. I didn’t want to endure another winter of freezing my unmentionables off, so I went online in search of a new comforter.

That’s when I discovered something very discomfiting.

Bald geese.

A goose that has been live-plucked.

A goose that has been live-plucked.

Bloody, bald geese. Geese that have been live-plucked for their downy feathers.

There’s a movement afoot to discourage people from buying down products. Animal rights activists claim that most of the down we get from geese is harvested using a method called live-plucking. You can read more about it by clicking here.

A goose is held down and sometimes tied up, and then it’s feathers are plucked until the goose is bald and bleeding. Often the flesh is ripped open from the plucking, and then sewn back shut with a straight needle. No anasthesia or pain killer is given the poor, suffering goose.

If you’re not too squeamish, and have already eaten breakfast, try watching this video produced by PETA. It shows live-plucking in action.

IKEA and Patagonia are two businesses that no longer use down in their products, due to their opposition to live-plucking. But many companies continue to use and sell down products. I wonder if they’re hoping the general public won’t catch on to the animal cruelty we finance when we buy their feathery merchandise.

The good news is, there are plenty of excellent synthetic alternatives to down.

My research discovered the best substitute is Primaloft. Primaloft was developed by the U.S. Army in the 1980’s. It possesses nearly the same insulating power as down, and retains 96% of its insulating capability when wet. Down, on the other hand, is useless when wet.

Primaloft is also lightweight. But I must concede, it does not seem quite as lightweight as down. Just the same, it sure can take a heavy burden off your conscience.

A good Primaloft comforter also costs less than a good down comforter. I bought one for about $150.

I used it for the first time a few nights ago, when winter got into a battle with our late-summer weather, and sent us a crushing cold front. I slept cozy as a coyote. In fact I had to stick my legs out, to keep the prickly heat away.

Down is down and out, on my shopping list. I can’t get the image of bloody honking geese out of my head. But at least I can sleep better knowing that perhaps a few less geese will be tortured, due to my recent buying decision.

The F-Word

The bard.

The bard used the F-word. But in those days it meant something completely different. And if rumors about Shakespeare are true, I doubt he’d ever use that word today.

I haven’t used the F-word in many years. But there was a time when I thought nothing of deploying it. It fell from my lips as easily as any other slang in common usage.

I remember my classmates and I freely and frequently speaking this word in elementary school. We used it on the playground. We used it in the classroom. We used it in front of our teachers. Hell, sometimes even our teachers would utter this epithet.

Nobody thought it was that bad of a word. But it could occasionally incite an angry exchange or even a fistfight. It was used to playfully or maliciously put someone down–especially other males. It often peppered the badinage and persiflage of our masculine repartee.

I continued to use the F-word after entering adulthood. But I found myself feeling less and less comfortable with it. When other adults used it, they seemed to color it with a tinge of hatred and contempt. I guess I didn’t share their level of contempt.

One day I used the F-word while speaking with someone whom I held in great esteem. He responded with a long silence. I felt puzzled and a little embarrassed. I knew he didn’t live that kind of lifestyle. He wasn’t one of “them”. So why the silent treatment?

But he knew others who lived that way. And as I opened my eyes and mind, I realized I did too. And these were folks who were like anybody else, except for that lifestyle. Most of them were honest, considerate and, like all of us, they were smart in their own way. And their “lifestyle” usually wasn’t much different from the rest of us.

So I stopped using the F-word. I don’t like the banning of words. My mind bristles when people try to tell me what I cannot say. I think that’s natural. We all love freedom of speech. But there are some words that have been used for generations to fuel hatred and justify violence.

You may have already guessed that the F-word I’m referring to is not the four-letter one. Hell no. I love that fucking word. It adds color, character, and emphasis to our language, and enjoys special status in the cockles of my heart. No, this particular F-word is either three or six letters long. At one time it referred to firewood and cigarette butts. But nowadays it’s an unambiguous hate-language word, and reflects bigotry and ignorance.

Those who have used this word have unwittingly or wittingly fueled the hatred that has contributed to the violent deaths of many innocents. Matthew Shepard met such a demise in Wyoming in 1998, at the age of 21. He’d been pistol-whipped, tortured, and tied to a barbed wire fence.

And just last year, on November 1st, gay rights activist George Zander was beaten to death in Palm Springs, California. That’s only a few miles from where I live, for God’s sake. He was the victim of an alleged hate crime. Local news reports describe him as having been a wonderful, well-liked human being. He was even honored posthumously with a star on Palm Springs’ famous Walk of Stars.

And then there was the Orlando nightclub shooting this last Sunday. Dozens of other wonderful, well-liked human beings perished at the hands of a man who hated their sexual orientation. I suspect this man both heard and used the F-word many times in his life. When he heard others casually flinging this term around, did it make violence seem okay for him? How could it not?

So for me, the F-word is out of my vocabulary. I want to avoid contributing to the violent deaths of innocent people.

Because that would just be too fucked up.