Monthly Archives: June 2012

Heard on the Fly

You know how close I am to Washington, DC, don’t you?  Yup, I’m right across the river — it’s right outside my window.  So naturally, I have my finger on the very pulse of the Nation’s Capitol.

Sometimes, I have inside information.

Sometimes, I know what’s going to happen in advance.

Sometimes, I overhear the people at the heart of the day’s most important events.

That’s what happened this time.  Yes, I knew what was coming.  I just couldn’t tell you or I would have had to kill you.  You know how that goes.

Because on March 28, 2012, moments after the end of the Supreme Court argument on the Affordable Care Act, Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito came to my offices.

They flew in unexpectedly. Most of our staff members were surprised and watched them from a respectful distance.  But not me.

Nope.  I sucked up to them big time.  I offered to let them pick my brain, so they let me in real close.  Close enough to hear them discuss the oral argument and listen to their opinions.  You know, the opinions on which so many people like me with chronic diseases depend.

Justice Scalia was the first to arrive.

Then, Justice Alito joined his colleague on the balcony.

And just like Alan Shore and Denny Craig on Boston Legal, Antonin and Sam just kicked back on the balcony and chatted about their day.

“Wasn’t that debate a hoot, A-man?” said Justice Alito  “How we gonna vote?”  Sam always defers to Scalia when figuring out how to think/vote.

“It was boring,” responded Scalia.  “I hardly had any opportunities to show how brilliant I am.  Three days of being just like everybody else.  I don’t know how I managed.  Besides,” Antonin added, “I decided to vote to repeal it before Congress even passed the law.  Healthcare for everybody?  Even for people who don’t have lifetime judicial appointments or coverage from serving in Congress?  Yeah, right.  Over my dead body.”

“Of course you’re right, pal,” responded Sam.  “But do you think we’ll be able to get the chicks to go along with us?”

“What are you scarfing?  Didn’t you hear those ‘girly-girls’ talking?” scoffed Scalia.  “‘Chronic conditions,’ ‘Judicial activism’ ‘Medicaid expansion.’  Bah!  They shouldn’t let chicks on the Court.  Especially not these feminista types.  They have no ‘judicial restraint.’  They shouldda all been Borked.”

“You got that right, A-Man.  But I think we’re stuck with them for life.”  The Justices were quiet for a moment, and then Alito expressed his deepest fear in a barely audible whisper:  “I’m worried about the Chief, though.  You think he’s with us on this one?”

“He is getting a bit uppity these days.  Independent-minded.  He won’t even let me peck at corpses first any more,” responded Scalia disdainfully.

“And what about Kennedy?  He is so damn wishy-washy, you never know what he’s gonna do.”

“Oh, he’ll vote with me.  With us.  And Thomas will too, of course.”

“Uh, A-man?  What if we lose?”

“We’ll hide behind our robes.  And our awesome healthcare coverage.  Oh, and our lifetime judicial appointments.  And maybe we can get CNN to announce the decision our way.”

*   *   *

I am absolutely delighted that I had to rewrite this entire post, because the Supreme Court just voted 5-4 to uphold the Affordable Healthcare Act, even though it was way funnier when I expected the ACA to be overturned.

These two vultures, voted, as predicted, to overturn the law, and were joined by Justices Thomas (no surprise) and Kennedy (a surprise to me at least).

I post this in celebration.  It is a victory for folks like me with chronic health conditions.  It is a victory for everybody but the GOP, who was for the mandate before they were against it.

These photos of two black vultures/supreme court justices were actually taken at my company’s offices immediately following the oral arguments on the Affordable Health Act before the U.S. Supreme Court.   Photoshop was not used.  All photo credits belong to my friend and colleague, Ruby, and were used with her permission.

No vultures were harmed while creating this post.

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Filed under Health and Medicine, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Politics, Stupidity, Voting

Sinking Deeper

Some days I am overwhelmed with awe at how brilliant people can be.  I read about new discoveries and new science every day.  And it is amazing.

And then there are days like today, when I am astonished at how willfully and intentionally ignorant some folks can be.  And I realize that the lengths to which some folks will go to remain and reaffirm their ignorance is merely the tip of the iceberg.  The icing on the cake.  The snow on the mountaintop.

Yesterday, while driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, I saw this billboard:

It doesn’t mention what happens in the end, though.

And I have to honestly say, I don’t get it a whole lot of things about this billboard.

First, I don’t get why folks are bound and determined that I am going to think just like them.  And that they will keep hitting me over the head with their crap until I agree.

Second, do they really think that someone is going to be driving along the New Jersey Turnpike and need religion?  (Well, sometimes it does seem like hell, but still.)

Do they think that, while sitting in gridlock, paying exorbitant tolls or avoiding stupid drivers, people will suddenly “see the light” and say to their spouse:

“Honey, I understand it now.  God created the universe in seven days.  Period.  Seven twenty-four-hour days.  And science had nothing to do with it.  But you know, Dear, what I can’t seem to figure out is why God let us think up all this science stuff to begin with.”

My mother used to say “you catch more flies with honey.”  And it’s true.  Especially with people’s deeply held beliefs.  Christianity became such a dominant religion by incorporating much of the beliefs and traditions of the pagans.  Not by saying “nannie, nannie, boo-boo, I’m right you’re wrong.”

Even seeing stuff like this billboard and a thousand roadside signs I passed, well, sometimes I can still be surprised by the lengths to which folks will go to try and tell me, to prove to me, that my beliefs are wrong.  But today I read an article that has me still shaking my head, hours after seeing it.

Loch Ness monster cited by US schools as evidence that evolution is myth

Nessie, in the famous “Surgeon’s Photograph” from 1934 that is widely believed to be a hoax. (Thanks, Google.)

THOUSANDS of American school pupils are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real – in an attempt by religious teachers to disprove Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Pupils attending privately-run Christian schools in the southern state of Louisiana will learn from textbooks next year, which claim Scotland’s most famous mythological beast is a living creature.

Thousands of children are to receive publicly-funded vouchers enabling them to attend the schools – which follow a strict fundamentalist curriculum.

The Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme teaches controversial religious beliefs, aimed at disproving evolution and proving creationism. (Emphasis added by me.)

Me, I don’t understand why evolution and creation cannot co-exist.

The existence of God and belief in a higher power does not mean that the universe was created in a week and man in a day.  Man and woman, however we were created, have minds and a curious nature.  That’s what makes us unique.  That is also how we discover cool things, like how to photograph pretend monsters.

But public money is going to pay to teach religion.  I will repeat.  Public money.  Whatever happened to the separation of Church and State?  The founding fathers will have something to say about this at the Reckoning, I’d bet.

As a nation, and as living, rational human beings we are walking a tightrope.  Backwards.

Inherit the Wind should be required viewing.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Elections, Hypocrisy, Law, Politics, Science, Stupidity, Traffic, Voting

The Livin’s Easy

Well, boys and girls, it’s summertime.  Time to go outside, enjoy the sun and maybe even travel a bit.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, I used to think so.  But now I’m not so sure.  Because I am a coward.

This has been true for my entire life, as my brother Fred would attest.  Anything where there was the slightest hint of danger, I would not do.  Well, except for playing on the railroad tracks.

I’d gotten over my cowardice.  I learned to taste new foods, try new activities, travel.  But now?

Now,  thanks to the internet, well, everything is dangerous.  And I always learn about these dangers.  And therefore, everything terrifies me.  Even those things that I never expected to be so damn frightening.

For example, I love being outside.  Walking by any body of water makes me happy.  But two weeks ago I found a tick chowin’ down at the top of my leg, right on a nice healthy vein.  He was a tough sucker, and I needed John’s help pulling him out.  And you know that at 6 a.m. there are better ways to start your day.

But!  Did I panic?  Heck no.  I’ve been bitten before.  I know what to look for (large red target and/or flu-like symptoms and/or anything odd).  Lyme’s Disease ain’t getting me.  No sirreeeeeee.   I am, after all, a fake medical professional.

At about the same time, though, I started getting a bit concerned about other dangers of summer, lurking about me.

Is Sunscreen Flammable? Asked the New York Times.

“How the hell should I know?”  I responded.  “You’re the authority.”  So I read the article .  I am, after all, an Irish American woman still awaiting my first tan.  I use sunscreen religiously.  (That gives me my excuse for never going to mass.)

The answer is, in a word, yes.

Beware. This can happen to you as easily as it happened to Nicholas Cage. (Thanks, Google)

But again.  I am not stupid.  I am a fake medical professional and I have a brain.  I will not spray myself with any aerosol and cook over an open flame.

Naturally, summer got more complicated.  Because just last week my husband sent me an article that I would really rather not have read.

Remember that tick?  Well, funny thing.  It wasn’t your average tick.  Nope, it wasn’t a dog tick or a deer tick.  It was special.  It was a Lone Star Tick.  And it may, just may, make me sorry for all the comments I have ever made about Texas.  Which is now my very favorite state in the union.  Really.

We were once so close. (Thanks again Google. I feel close to you too.)

Apparently, bites by Lone Star Ticks can, in rare occasions lead to an allergy to red meat.  And this allergy, like the allergy to peanuts, involves serious hives and anaphylaxis and can lead to death.

As an unapologetic, albeit infrequent carnivore, this news has me a wee bit concerned.  I immediately began feeling sick to my stomach because we had barbequed burgers the night before.  Then I re-read the article and realized that nausea was not a symptom of the Lone Star Tick allergy, so it immediately went away.  It was an amazing cure.

Right then and there, I decided ENOUGH!  I will not subject myself to these deadly summer-born illnesses any longer.

I am moving to Antarctica.

I was just starting to pack my brand new luggage when I read this:

Samsonite recalls Tokyo Chic luggage after chemical scare

HONG KONG – Samsonite, the world’s biggest luggage maker, is to replace the handles on its American Tourister brand’s Tokyo Chic inventory, amid claims some products contained high levels of chemicals that may be carcinogenic.

Winter just can’t come fast enough for me.

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Filed under Humor

Fighting Stupidity 101

You guys read my blog and often rail with me against the stupidity we are seeing in our political discussions.  And it does my heart good.

Tonight, I’m going to show you how some folks in Troy, Michigan, fought the Tea Party with inspiring brilliance, reverse psychology and humor.

You folks in Troy, Michigan?  You seriously rock!

 

I found out about this story at Crooks and Liars.com, where I find a lot of interesting things.  Thanks, you guys.  You rock too.

 

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Filed under Elections, Family, Humor, Law, Politics, Stupidity

Oh Grow UP!

How can you have a discussion about something without mentioning it?  Without calling it by its name?  Without calling a spade a spade or a vagina a vagina?

Because that’s what happened in the Michigan State Senate.  No, no, no, it didn’t happen during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Alive and well, apparently

No it happened Wednesday, June 13.  2012.  Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown said the word “vagina.”  It’s true.  Imagine that!  During a debate on abortion, she uttered the “V” word right there on the floor of the legislature and was banned from speaking, from offering amendments, from doing her job.

According to a story in The Detroit News,

Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland, determined Brown’s comments violated the decorum of the House, said Ari Adler, spokesman for the Republican majority.

And other Republicans agreed:

“What she said was offensive,” said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

Again, according to the Detroit news article,

“If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?” Brown said at a press conference. “What language should I use?”

Why is it that Republicans are so willing to legislate on sex including who does it and its various outcomes, but they can’t say the word?  How can you have a debate if you can’t mention the subject?  Oh, I guess that’s the point.

Isn’t it time for these powerful GOP members to grow up?  Say it with me boys, it’s not hard “V-A-G-I-N-A.”

And isn’t it time that we voters start paying attention to the views of people we vote for and not just listen to all the bullshit?

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Filed under Criminal Activity, Elections, Health and Medicine, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Politics, Science, Stupidity, Voting

Birthday Party Blasts!

Sigh.  The guilt.  The knot in my stomach.  The heartache of knowing that I am an inadequate mother.

No, I didn’t forget my child on the roof of the car.  I did not sell him into child pornography or child slavery.  I did not force him to converse with me only in Pig-Latin so that his classmates would laugh at him when he started school.

Nope.  I failed in a much more important way.

Birthday parties.

Maybe it is just that I became a parent too soon.  Maybe there is still time to discover a spacial anomaly that will allow us to remedy the situation.  So that we could once again hold our heads high with the other parents who hosted birthday parties for their equally indulged children. Sigh.

We had fun.  Or so I thought.

When Jacob was young, we had a swimming pool.  And so we had lovely gatherings for dozens of friends with everybody in the pool.  I was young enough then to even appear in front of my friends in a bathing suit.

As he aged, we progressed to other types of parties.  We had one at an indoor playground with tunnels and ball pits and slides and pizza.  We did bowling and laser tag.  All with pizza.

It’s true that unlike a classmate of Jacob’s in 1st grade we did not hold his 7th birthday party in one of the fanciest hotels in Geneva, Switzerland, as did one of his classmates.  It was quite a doo, actually, with waitresses in little French maid outfits carrying silver trays full of, yeah, pizza.  (I’ve always wondered where they’ll hold her wedding.)  But Jacob is a boy, and didn’t care a hoot about fancy-schmancy.

Once we had Jacob’s birthday party at a skateboard rink; helmets and pads were required.  We indulgent parents want to keep everybody safe, and bubble wrap tends to be somewhat suffocating.  We served Pizza, natch.

We only had one real disaster.  And that was when the day before Jacob’s 13th birthday party, which had been postponed, John was called out of the country for an emergency meeting.  Jacob has never recovered.  “Dad missed my 13th Birthday Party,” he sniffed, just this evening.

I thought that was the worst possible child’s birthday fiasco imaginable in an age where parties aren’t done at home, and really all parents need to do is write a check.  It’s hard to go too wrong unless the check bounces.

I thought that until today, anyway.

That’s when I learned that there is a whole new type of kids birthday party that will, well, blow away the competition!  And we missed it.  Sigh.  We were simply born too soon.

And, of course, as in so very many things, Texas is leading the way.  You see, a Texas gun range will be hosting birthday parties for children as young as 8 years old!

“I don’t know whether anyone has ever tried this before,” said David Prince, who is building the indoor gun range.

Personally, I myself, cannot imagine why no one has ever thought of arming children with lethal weapons, filling them with soda and candy and pizza and letting them go at it.  What could be more fun?

Mr. Prince did mention that lots of staff will be around to “help parents supervise.”  Boy, that’s a relief.

Because supervising kids parties isn’t really as easy as it sounds.  That bowling party Jacob had when he was 8?  There were heavy balls falling too close to kids feet, there were shoe rentals (and the fact 8 year olds never know their size) the drinks and snacks to be ordered and kept off the special floor.  It’s complicated.

“We’re not just going to have kids running around waving loaded guns and shooting at piñatas,” said Prince, an accountant and gun enthusiast.

Yup, staff assistance will be available.  This is handy, natch, when lethal weapons are involved; I’d say it’s worth at least an extra $5, easy.  Perhaps an extra $20 if no one dies. 

But you know, I imagine that the release form will be a bit intimidating for the parents who actually like their kids:

Yes, I agree to hold Bubba’s Bullet and Billet harmless, in the event that someone blows my 8-year-old child’s head off.

Nevertheless, I think that it’s good to know that entrepreneurs are developing better ways for parents to get a bang for their birthday bucks.

I just hope the staff is good at distinguishing between pizza stains and blood.

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Filed under Conspicuous consumption, Gun control, Health and Medicine, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Stupidity

An International Life of Crime

The State of New Jersey just passed a new law requiring pet owners to restrain their pets in the car.  It’s become known as the Seamus law, after Mitt Romney’s dog Seamus who famously rode to Canada on the roof of Mitt’s car.

Now I have mixed feelings about this law.  It was designed to keep primarily dogs from distracting the driver.  Which is a good thing.  But I’m worried that it will lead to a crime wave.

Because restraining my dog led me to bribe an official of the French government.  Somehow I eluded authorities and remain a free woman.  But there is a lesson here.  And that lesson is this:

Restraint results in a loss of freedom

Yes, it’s true.  I am profound.  And awesome.  And a hardened criminal.

So what happened, Elyse? you say, wondering if you really want to know about my life of crime.  And you know I’m going to tell you.

*   *   *

When we got Cooper in 1998, we owned a Toyota Picnic, a little six seat van not available in the U.S.  It was kind of a vomit van, actually, because it was well known to induce vomiting by anyone who traveled with us.  We kept a large supply of cleaning supplies with us at all times.

Anyway, I read an article about how, if you stop suddenly, while traveling at 60 mph, a 50 lb Springer Spaniel dog will be traveling significantly faster as he flies through the car.  He will, in fact, become a projectile and might end up killing your kid.

Now I liked the dog a lot even at that early stage.  But I didn’t really relish the idea of the dog killing my kid to whom I was quite attached.  So, to scorn and jeers from John, I bought Cooper a special doggie seat belt that attached to the seatbelt of the seat behind the driver’s.

Cooper, however, did not approve of this new restraint.  I presume I hadn’t adequately educated him on the importance of self-restraint.  Because he ate his restraint.  And he had started eating the seatbelt too when I realized what was happening and released the rebel.  Who then happily sat wherever he wanted in the back of the vomit van.

Fortunately, Cooper hadn’t really done much damage to the seatbelt.  There were only a few bites taken out of it; it worked perfectly well and was not a safety hazard.

But when we moved across the border into France a couple of years later, well, we had to have the car inspected.  And the French car inspectors are famous for flunking Americans.  According to my husband, anyway.  And so I faced the villains alone.

Now, before you jump all over my husband for sending me into the lion’s den, well there is something you should know.  My husband cannot lie.  He cannot stretch the truth.  He cannot exaggerate.  Worse in this case, he would not have been able to restrain himself from explaining to the inspector that it really was not a safety issue.

Me, well, I’m different.  I grew up getting away with high crimes and misdemeanors.  I rarely got caught, and when I did, well, I got out of it. I’ve had practice.

So whenever we needed to deal with the French government, well, it was all up to me.

I drove to wherever it was, produced my paperwork, and waited my turn.  Truthfully, I was nervous.  I didn’t want to have to spend $1 zillion replacing a seat belt (car repairs in Switzerland/France are tres cher).  So I fidgeted with the container of mints in my pocket.  Tic Tacs.

When my turn came, I was outside with the inspector, chatting to him.  He was a young guy, and was nice and helpful as I tried to have a chatty conversation with him in my pigeon French. In fact, he couldn’t have been nicer to me.

Plus, the car was in great shape, clean and nearly perfectly maintained.  He found nothing wrong on the outside.  Then he opened the front passenger side, and tested the seat belt.  He closed the door and went to the rear passenger seat, and tested that one.

I started to sweat.  The chewed one was next.

He went around and opened the rear driver’s side door.  And that’s when I did it.

“Tic Tac?” I asked him, holding out the container.

“Oui, merci, madame,” he responded, closing that door without looking at the damaged seat belt.  He took a Tic Tac, and proceeded to inspect the driver’s seat belt.

My car passed inspection with flying colors.

And I continued to live a life of crime in France, just outside of Geneva for two years.

*   *   *

So, if you are going to be driving through New Jersey with your dog you have two choices:

Restrain him or buy yourself a three-pack of Tic Tacs.

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Filed under Cooper, Criminal Activity, Driving, Fashion, Geneva Stories, Humor, Law