The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Snakes and other adventures in media



I may be horribly old-fashioned, and I do realize that there are good many people who will roll their eyes at the idea that I might be old-fashioned and say, no, you are not old-fashioned, stupid, you are completely behind the times and would you please hurry up and catch up with the Zeitgeist before you embarrass myself completely, but I cannot fathom why anyone would think that watching an anaconda swallow a grown man is in any way entertaining.  But it seems that someone does, because I have seen a commercial for this…actually, I am not sure what to call it.  I do not know if this qualifies as a reality show, a wildlife documentary, or a cooking show. I realize that the advent of cable and satellite television, and the subsequent need for ever more content to fill the hours, has led inevitably to a diminution in the quality of the programming available for broadcast, but frankly, watching a giant snake swallow a grown man is more than a little ridiculous.  This is not entertainment; it barely qualifies as bread and circuses.

First, a spoiler alert: our intrepid hero, who has gone boldly where no man has gone before, survives his encounter with the anaconda. I know this because our intrepid hero is in all the ads for this program and appears to narrate the program as well, two bits of showmanship that more or less preclude the snake’s having digested him. That’s a dead giveaway there, if you ask me. There is no suspense involved in watching a snake swallow a man if you already know that the man survives the encounter, only a vaguely annoyed feeling with yourself for watching such rubbish in the first place. If you must feel annoyed with yourself, you may as well watch the further adventures of the Kardashian sisters; whatever else you can say about them, they are certainly better looking than a giant anaconda.

Second, what is the point of this particular exercise, other than to deny a snake its dinner?  If we must learn about the digestive processes of snakes, wouldn’t it be easier to have the snake swallow a camera the same way I do when my GI guy insists that I have a colonoscopy. Snakes have no trouble swallowing anything; their jaws uncouple, as we all learned in eighth grade biology, so that they can swallow animals bigger than their own heads.  It’s what they do.  Therefore, it should not be wildly difficult to induce an anaconda to gulp down a camera, even if there isn’t a grown man attached to it.  But why do it in the first place?  I am clearly missing something here.

Finally, swallowing is not interesting. Everyone does it every day. Our intrepid hero would be better off if he skipped being an appetizer and did something constructive like campaigning to end such violent spectacles as bullfighting, high school football, and the Miss America pageant, and replacing them with wholesome entertainment like giraffe swatting, wherein teams of drunken dwarves armed with fly swatters and equipped with pogo sticks try to swat the most flies away from the heads of giraffes running around a track before the time clock or the whiskey run out. Now, that is something I would pay good money to see and I would pay it knowing that no one was about to offend my sensibilities.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Last Night's Ukase from the Tsar.

Unbridled arrogance, wrapped in the usual sanctimonious K-Y jelly to make the shoving of the Constitution up the American people's collective backside that much easier to take. The former junior senator from Illinois has decided that the Constitution does not apply to him, so he will do as he pleases, thank you very much. "A republic, if you can keep it," said Benjamin Franklin in 1787, when a Philadelphia woman asked him after the Constitutional Convention what the new government would be. Well, 227 years later, we have arrived at the monarchy the Founding Fathers feared; this our Great Republic was nice while it lasted.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

My way or the highway



This remark from the former junior senator from Illinois intrigues me. He made it the day after his party suffered a wallopingly bad defeat at the polls: “To everyone who voted, I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you too.”  Now, as a proud scion of the Cook County Democratic machine, our prairie solon is familiar with the idea of representing people who are not really there. After all, dying in Cook County presents the deceased with the choice between heaven, hell, and purgatory—this last does not apply if you are not Roman Catholic—and mandatory induction into the Democratic Party; you may avoid two out of the three previous fates, although you can get to heaven from purgatory eventually, but that last one, I fear, is unavoidable.   The dead are a solidly Democratic voting bloc. 

So it is with this in mind that the Seigneur de Bourbon made his announcement. Since the two-thirds that didn’t vote clearly outnumber the one-third that did, he must champion the causes of the majority non-voters as opposed to the minority voters, who are clearly too stupid to understand what is good for them.  In short, his fingers are in his ears and he’s not listening to anything he don’t wanna listen to and you can’t make him, even if you go home and tell your mother. So there, take that, you Republican racist snotwads!

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Braxton Bragg on the wave



It seems to me that the best comment on the 2014 mid-term elections came from General Braxton Bragg, C.S.A., who made the comment in 1863.  Reviewing the outcome of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, a battle in which the Confederate Army of Tennessee got its clock cleaned by the Union Army of the Cumberland, General Bragg wrote to Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States that “the disaster admits of no palliation and is justly disparaging to me as a commander.”  He then spent the rest of the letter explaining why the disaster wasn’t entirely his fault.  I thought of this while watching the former junior senator from Illinois trying to explain why the Democratic unpleasantness that occurred on Tuesday had nothing really to do with him. He may actually believe this, although he may still be trying to process what just happened.  I have often thought that our Illinois Incitatus appears to think of his current office as being akin to being the Mayor of Chicago, except with better golf courses and nuclear weapons.  For any Mayor of Chicago, the Republicans are something of an abstraction; you know that such people exist somewhere, but they are not anyone you have to deal with and they are certainly not people whose opinions you have to give any consideration.  For our prairie solon, the first two years of his term must have seemed like a golden age, a time when He was the master of all he surveyed, but all such ages must come to an end, and now his enemies surround him like paparazzi on a red carpet.  I think that it’s going to be an interesting two years, yes I do.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The wave


Yes, my mood has improved greatly over the course of the past twenty-four hours, although I’m not sure why that is, he said lying through his teeth, and thank you for asking.  It’s as if a great wave has washed over me and swept away a multitude of things that annoyed the hell out of me and now I feel clean and refreshed.  Of course, the biggest annoyance of all is still with us and will be until winter of 2017, at which I am seriously considering throwing a humongous party complete with liquor and strippers to celebrate the glorious occasion.  I think it’s a wonderful idea, although my brother tells me that I should make the celebration contingent on no one pretending to come from Westchester coming by to cast a pall on the whole affair.  This strikes me as very sound advice and so I will hold off the actual planning of the annoyance’s retirement until such time that I know it can’t continue to annoy me

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Juries and other problems



I know I shouldn’t celebrate getting out of jury duty; the right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury of my peers is a fundamental constitutional right and as such is certainly not something I should shirk simply because the exercise of that right causes me some minor inconvenience. On the other hand, jury duty is a pain in the ass that I would just as soon skip and now I can. Technically, I am still in this week’s jury pool, but they’ve already gone past my number and I am pretty sure this means that this particular problem has gone the way of all flesh. Yay!!!

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Whine, whine, whine, doesn't he ever shut up?



I dislike reading the mail. At work, I solve this problem by throwing all of it into the trash almost as soon as the clerks put the stuff on my desk, which is an excellent system and one that I commend to your attention but not one I can repeat at home, unfortunately. At home, I have to worry about throwing something important away; actually, I don’t worry about it at all, but people tell me I should and so for the sake of familial amity I let on that I am worried when in fact I don’t really give a rat’s patoot. So instead of throwing my mail away immediately, I avoid looking at it for as long as I can. I don’t know why I have an aversion to my mail; when I was a boy, getting a letter was a big deal, especially if the letter came sometime near my birthday; I knew that there’d be some money tucked in the card inside and then I’d get to spend more than my mother would allow me otherwise on candy. Nowadays, of course, the mail is full of people asking me for money that I don’t want to give them.  I usually get a refund on my income taxes, which is nice, but let’s face it, the IRS is not giving me free money, they’re sending my money back to me. There is a difference, you know. There are exceptions to my mail aversion, of course: I will happily crack open the National Geographic as soon as I can lay my hands on it and I will open anything that says statement enclosed on the front almost as soon as it arrives. However much I dislike reading my mail, I dislike owing money even more, so I want to get rid of the bills as fast as possible.  But the National Geographic came a couple of weeks ago and I’ve already paid the bills for this month, and therefore it was in a dispirited state of all right, let’s get this over with that I went through the mail this weekend and discovered something shocking.

As a person with more chronic diseases than I know what to do with, I get a lot of mail from medical supply companies and health insurance plans and all the attendant remora of that insatiable beast, the American health care system. Usually, I just look at this stuff and throw it into the trash; analog spam deserves nothing less, I think; and it was with that intention firmly in mind that I opened a letter from the company that supplies me with insulin and other diabetic supplies. After the usual corporate pleasantries, the letter said that after October 30, 2014, this company would no longer supply me with the very necessary supplies I mentioned in the previous sentence. Well, I was stunned and shocked and amazed, with a large dollop of fear and consternation thrown into the pot for extra flavoring. I have dealt with this same company for ten years and I could not believe that they were tossing me out on my metaphorical ear after all we didn’t mean to each other. What had gone wrong with our relationship?  What had I done to deserve this sort of treatment?

I went into work the next day fully intending to get to the bottom of the matter. I knew that I hadn’t done anything that warranted my getting the boot, so I was going to need names and phone numbers and web sites and the Lord only knows what else to reinstate myself in good standing with this flighty pharmaceutical. I was already certain that some sort of bureaucratic snafu had occurred, that some computer somewhere had had a glitch or a virus or a nervous breakdown and had completely wiped my medical record off the face of the earth and now some low-bore clerk was trying to cover the mistake up by dropping my coverage and hoping I didn’t notice.  Well, I was having none of that, no way no how. I was not going to take this lying down, standing up, or even sitting in a recliner drinking hot chocolate with the little marshmallows floating on top while watching Vanna light up the letters on Wheel of Fortune. No, I am an experienced bureaucratic warrior and these clowns would soon find out that they weren’t going to push me around and get away with it. They’d be sorry they ever tangled with me, yes they would, the scurvy louts.

Having girded my loins for battle, I entered the fray with equal parts of high hope and stern determination, convinced as I was of the righteousness of my cause, only to be gobsmacked by the mother of all gobsmackery at my first contact with the trolls of the corporate bureaucracy. It seems that yes, the company is dropping my account, and the reason why they are dropping my account is that the company is going bankrupt.  When I say they are going bankrupt, I do not mean that they are filing for Chapter 11 so that they can reorganize the company, restructure its debts, and then get back on its corporate feet leaner and meaner than before; I mean they are going into liquidation, as in they are soon to be one with the choir invisible, the silent majority, and the Norwegian blue parrot, a remarkable bird that spends more time than it ought to pining for the fjords.  Lovely plumage, though. In short, this company is flat on its ass.  

I was stunned, first by its immediate implications—where do I get my supplies now—and then by a growing disquiet. We live in an age in which the media and the government describe diabetes as an epidemic, a condition affecting more and more people than ever before. How then, in a market where the supply of customers is growing ever larger, both individually and in the aggregate (yes, this is a fat joke, just in case you were wondering), and where said customers need their insulin and lancets and alcohol swabs and glucose meters, etc. in the same way that junkies need their daily fix, does a company with a captive and ever-growing market have so little business sense that circumstances force it into bankruptcy?  One need only look at the ever-expanding American waistline to know that there is gold in them there lardasses and only a fool could fail to profit from the wealth created by years of junk food and Coca-Cola. Apparently, this company found all the fools who could fail to profit from these circumstances and gave them positions of great corporate responsibility, which has led to the inevitable situation the company and all of its customers now find themselves. Well, character is destiny, the ancient Greeks believed, and I am sure that all of the aforementioned fools will find good government jobs where their foolishness will do as little harm as possible. They could, for example, go to work for the Vampire State’s health insurance plan, where those of us who need our diabetic supplies go to find out where we are going to get our supplies now that the old supplier has gone the way of all flesh, and where they could tell the people who run that plan that the company the plan's voice-mail keeps referring people to has gone out of business. Finding oneself trapped on a Mobius loop is a disagreeable experience, to say the least, and I do wish that if the state has to do business with pharmaceuticals that they do business with a Mexican drug cartel, an organization that clearly knows how to make money selling drugs, unlike the clods they're working with now.  But that would make sense and we can’t have any of that, can we? As Governor Lepetomane quite rightly pointed out, we have to protect our phony baloney jobs, gentlemen!

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