Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stop Making Sense

Mitt Romney had a dad who also wanted to be President.  Dad's name was George Romney, and George, oddly enough, was born outside the United States (in Mexico) to Mormon separatists from Utah.  They had left the country because they were against the idea that marriage should be between one man and one woman.  Naturally, they felt it should be between one man and several women. 

George Romney had a tendency to say things he later regretted.  The most famous of these described his interaction with American generals while on a fact-finding trip he had taken to Vietnam in 1965: "When I came back from Vietnam, I'd just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get."   

The public, perhaps rightly so, felt that someone who wanted to be President shouldn't be so easily led.  They also wanted someone who had better control over his own mouth - in George's case, someone who could lie a little more.

In a lot of ways, George and Mitt couldn't be more different.  George Romney was by many accounts a decent man.  He was an early supporter of Civil Rights.  When he decided to run for office, he immediately released ten years' worth of his tax returns.  They showed that he was wealthy, but that he also gave large sums of money to charity and to the Mormon Church.  George was the CEO of a company, American Motors, that actually made something: cars.  Not very good cars, but cars nonetheless.   

Mitt, as we know, made his living by borrowing huge amounts of money to buy, and then gut, formerly productive companies.  By his own account, Mitt likes to fire people.  He ties dogs to the tops of cars.  He steals money from working people, then hides that money in anonymous accounts on Grand Cayman.  He buggers small children.  He eats the flesh of the living to satisfy his inhuman appetites.

With all these differences in mind, I find it interesting that one trait Mitt did inherit from his father is George's gift for saying the wrong thing.  And in all likelihood, for not becoming President of the United States.      

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Neat Ivory Trinkets Made from Dead Elephants (WARNING: Graphic image ahead. Read at your own risk.)

Oooh...  Lovely ivory figurines.

Ivory is so nice.  People - artists, you might even call them - make really nice little carvings out of it.  It's all so nice, in fact, that it's quite expensive.  Check out this ivory Buddha statue: 

Neat, right?  I spotted this bad boy for sale on a Hong Kong based website.  It's the "Ivory Happy Money Buddha with Children and Money Bag."  It's two inches tall, an inch and a half wide, and will run you $669.95, plus shipping.  I bet you'll feel good about having that on your coffee table.  Show it to your friends.  It'll bring you peace and prosperity.  It's a conversation starter, at the very least.

Here's where it came from:

They kill the elephant first.  As you can imagine, it would be time-consuming and problematic to remove the tusks from a live elephant.  Then they cut the elephant's face off.  The reason they do this is 25% of the ivory is actually embedded in the face. 

Elephants are smart.  No one really argues against this anymore.  Like apes, whales and dolphins, they have huge brains.  They have highly organized social structures.  They express grief.  They have death rituals.  They play.  They use tools.  They solve problems.  Apparently, they even play music.

In fact, killing elephants is a lot like killing people.  And we'd never allow people to die just so we could get our hands on some overpriced baubles, would we?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sex Among the Mainers

Recently, a man from New York City moved to rural Maine.

His first afternoon there, as he was just settling in, his next door neighbor, a long-time farmer in the area, came to his door.

"I'm having a little party tonight, and seeing how you're new and all, I thought I should invite you," the farmer said.

The man from New York was pleased.  Clearly, people in Maine were friendlier than outsiders supposed.

"I'd love to come," the New Yorker said.

The Mainer held up a big hand.  "I just gotta warn you, there's gonna be some drinking."

The New Yorker smiled.  "I like to drink."

"And there's gonna be some fighting," the Mainer said.

The New Yorker was undeterred.  "That's okay.  I'm from New York.  I've been in lots of fights."

"Well," the Mainer said.  "There's gonna be some sex."

"Are you kidding me?" the newcomer said.  "This sounds like a great party!  What should I wear?"

"Don't matter," the Mainer said.  "It's just gonna be you and me."  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Quick Fix for Global Warming #1 - Blank White Canvas

Surprise!  There's more bad news on the Global Warming front.

I know: Global Warming.  That's so, like, Al Gore, 2004.  Nobody cares about that anymore.  In any event, this summer the Arctic Ocean ice cover reached its lowest level since they started watching it with satellites over 30 years ago.  It's less than half as much ice cover, and about a quarter as thick as it used to be.  It'll be totally gone by 2030, or sooner.

Why is this a problem?  Apparently, the whiteness of the sea ice reflects heat from the sun back into outer space, where it melts the blast shields on passing alien star cruisers.  This is a good thing.

But when the sea ice is gone, the dark water absorbs more heat, which intensifies and accelerates the whole warming process.  This makes climate scientists nervous because they don't believe in God, and are afraid of dying.     

Now, I've spent some time mulling this over, and I think I've hit upon a relatively easy, low-tech solution to the Arctic Ice dilemma.  Blank white canvas.  See?  You probably already get where I'm going with this.  The most elegant solutions are often like that - they're self-explanatory. 

In case you don't get it, what I'm saying is let's just make a gigantic white canvas, and stretch it over the entire, what used to be ice-covered, surface of the Arctic.

I know what you're thinking.  What about price?  Well, you can get a 5 foot by 3 foot canvas tarp online for about $6.  So that's 15 square feet right there.  The Arctic Ocean is about 5,400,000 square miles.  You'll have to finish the math on that one. 

Listen, pass this beauty on.  Let's get it to Obama.  And don't worry about copyright or anything like that.  I don't feel like I need to take the credit for it.  I'm just glad to have a hand in saving the human race.           

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I Might Have Killed This Person

Toina Hanson
If so, it was an accident. 
Sometime last fall, I was driving in the jalopy with Susie Sue.  We were coming into downtown Portland, along a strip where homeless people often stand by the road, "signing."  Signing means standing where people stop for a red light, holding up a sign asking for money.  "Hungry.  Please help."  That sort of thing. 
The woman you see here, named Toina Hanson, was there, holding a sign.  I must have barely noticed her (there are a lot of homeless people in Portland, Maine), because I barely remember the incident.  But Susie Sue remembers.  She nudged me as we stopped at the light, and I took this to mean: "Give the woman something."
The smallest thing I had was a $20.  So I opened the window and gave it to Toina.  She was excited.  Said: "God bless you!"  Something like that.  I guess you don't get a lot of twenties while out panhandling. 
Susie Sue said: "Did you give her a twenty?"
I said: "Yeah."
"Jesus, Patrick.  She's a junkie.  That's way too much money.  You probably just killed her."
Toina's body turned up recently in a wooded area on the edge of town, a couple of miles from that stoplight.  A hiker out picking wild blueberries found her skeletal remains.  The cops estimate she was laying there in the woods since last fall, right around the time I gave her all that money.  They say there were no signs of foul play.
If she were alive, Toina would now be 31 years old.  She doesn't look anywhere near that young in her photo.  I know people her age who still look like teenagers.  Toina had no home.  I'd guess she weighed about 70 pounds.   
We've got a machine here, and it grinds people right up.  Disappears them.  Leaves them for dead.  Nobody misses them.  Nobody notices.  The wheels roll on.  Some random nature lover finds the body almost a year later.