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Thursday, July 29, 2004
I'm Going to Italy and You're Not

In about three hours, we'll be winging our way to Venice for a much-needed vacation. We hope to also see Milan, Florence and Siena. Our last two nights we'll be spending in Paris.

I sure hope I can find some "Bush - Cheney '04" bumper-stickers at the airport gift shop before we take off. I want to stick them to the Eiffel Tower. If I have the opportunity, I will taunt you from overseas. See you in a couple of weeks.

P.S. Somebody tape the end of the convention for me, would you? I want to see if Kerry gets the nomination.

Monday, July 26, 2004
Paying Your Fair Share

We locals have been chuckling over this story in the news the last couple of days.  A palm reader and "psychic" who calls her self Sister Jackson has been arrested for swindling money from customers.  The deuce you say!

Police said that in all three cases, Urich allegedly told the customers they were under a curse, and that their money needed to be cleansed in order to remove the curse.[...]

The latest charge stems from a complaint to the Better Business Bureau of Greater New Orleans, which turned the case over to police.
The customer told the BBB that she was depressed about her divorce and called Urich after seeing the palm reader's advertisement, said Cynthia Albert, the organization's director of operations and media.
The woman said that on Feb. 20, Urich persuaded her to hand over $700 so Urich could take it home and pray over it. When the woman asked Urich several days later to return the money, she refused, saying more time was needed to lift the curse, Albert said.
After the BBB intervened, Urich's husband returned the money to the customer, Albert said. But charges were pressed by the woman after police intervened.

But here's the true punchline:

Albert said the BBB rarely gets complaints about psychics.
"Maybe they're afraid of the curse," she said.

Now tell me, how exactly did Sister Jackson commit a crime?  Think about it:  SHE TOLD PEOPLE SHE COULD SEE THEIR FUTURES BY LOOKING AT THEIR HANDS.  Apparently, that does not qualify as a scam.  But as soon as she tells them "Drop your $37,000 off with me because it's cursed and I'll need to pray over it to remove the curse" the police get involved?  At what point does being full of shit constitute a crime in this country?  Seems to me someone drew an arbitrary line here.

What I believe is that these so called "victims" are just paying their fair share of Stupid Tax.  They just happen to be in a higher bracket than most of us.  We've all made some purchases we regret - kitchen gadgets, self-help books, etc.  Not only do I think no crime was committed, I think it is only right for fools and their money to be parted.  They'd only do something else with it, something even more foolish.

Like donate it to Hillary in '08. But speaking of crimes, how is it that removing a curse from someone's cash meets the criminal standard, but time-traveling and channeling the thoughts of an unborn child to convince twelve semi-literates to award damages totaling millions do not? Hmmm?

Sister Jackson only got a few grand; John Edwards' cut was quite a bit more. Thank God he's fighting for the "little guy".

Monday, July 05, 2004
Welcome, Brother

I've added Johnny Knuckles to the blogroll. I have a soft spot for Canadians with common sense, having spent a year of my own life in the Toronto area. I actually started blogging while trapped behind the Maple Curtain. He's funny, he's vulgar, and he's usually right on target. That's why it pains me to have to do this to his review of Spider Man 2:

The other thing that kept jabbing Knuckle’s logic center with a broken stick was Parker’s whole poverty trip. Yes, yes, he’s saving the world. But there must be something a genius superhero can do other than run errands that require prompt timing.[...]

The other thing that grated on Knuckle’s nerves was this bullshit about a “cheap, renewing source of energy” the brilliant scientist turned villain is working on. So here’s how it goes, you gotta get mechanical arms stitched into your spine, create a reactor, and then use some fuel source of which only 25 pounds exist. Thank-you much, but Knuckles is going to continues sucking the sweet nectar of petrol out of the pumps at Shell.

I agree, Johnny. Totally unrealistic. Never mind that the main character SHOOTS FUCKING SPIDER WEBS FROM HIS WRISTS, the bit about the alternative fuel source was just too unbelievable.

Jeff's gonna share his Golden Rule of Entertainment with you fine people: Movies are ENTERTAINMENT. You shall let them wash over your skull without penetrating beyond the surface. When you exit the theater, you shall not have learned a damned thing. If thine movie attempts to TEACH or otherwise impart KNOWLEDGE, it is not ENTERTAINMENT and shall thence be shunned. For it is said that if you seek to gain KNOWLEDGE, thou shalt open a fuckin' book or tune thine television to the History Channel.

But do I recommend Johnny Knuckles' site? Damn right, I do! Seriously, some of the funniest stuff I've come across in awhile.

Get over there and give that Canuck the business.

Thursday, July 01, 2004
I am a Shoplifter in the Marketplace of Ideas

I truly feel fortunate to live in a time where ANYTHING is possible. Say, while we're on the subject, let me do some liberal-bashing while illustrating my point.

Remember when your mom told you that you could be anything you want to be when you grow up? I do, and I really wanted to be an astronaut. Really, more of the fly-around-and-blow-shit-up kind of space pilot, but I wanted to get into space. As you get older and your personal philosophy starts to gel, you either feel your options narrow (liberal) or you start to see the endless possibilities (conservative). For example:

Liberal Approach - "You have to be in NASA to be an astronaut and almost all astronauts are MILITARY and there's no way I'm joining their stinking war machine, plus it's mostly WHITE MALES with rich family connections; I have a double Masters' in Middle Persian Literature and Women's Studies and all those hairy imbeciles could ask about was did I have any SCIENTIFIC background? You can only be anything the people who run this country will LET you be."

Conservative Approach 1 - "Boy, NASA sure is taking their sweet-ass time... Screw it - I don't have all day. Get me Burt Rutan on the phone and have him build me a spaceship, would you? And tell him I'm in a hurry, I have to get another shipment of crack cocaine and AIDS virus to the inner-city."

Conservative Approach 2 - "sigh... I understand it's gonna take a few months to build my spaceship, but I was kinda hoping to get into space NOW. Look, wire the Russkies a few million - I'll catch a ride on one of theirs. It'll give me a chance to slap a "Bush/Cheney '04" bumper-sticker on the International Space Station while I'm up there. No, no - tell Burt I still want my spaceship, I just didn't want to wait."

Is there anything more American than that?

I've always been a voracious reader, and I think all bookworms at some point can't help imagining themselves on the other side of the equation. After all, if reading is so much fun, how great must it be to WRITE for a living? Now, being a realist, I understand that a relative few of those who attempt to write books actually get published. Sending your manuscript unsolicited to publishers won't even earn you a form rejection slip. You need to shop it to every literary agent in the book, and even THEN you have to be extremely lucky, and it sure as hell would help if you knew someone in the business.

Any of that whining sound familiar? Well, as it turns out, there IS another way: Write whatever the hell you want and publish it yourself! Steve H. of Little Tiny Lies fame put out his very own cookbook! Being a regular reader of his website, I can fat-bitch his recipes for free by searching his archives, but I'll still purchase a copy because I believe in encouraging his type of behavior. But did you hear that? YOU CAN PUBLISH YOUR OWN BOOKS! Sure, it costs you some money, but for less than a grand, you can have an ISBN number, be listed on Barnes and Noble and Amazon - immortality, baby!

My idea was for a book of essays on my personal philosophy. I have some chapter outlines, which I'll probably flesh out on this site, but for now, I'm trying to choose between two working titles:

The Tao of Jeff: Conservative Wisdom for Modern Living, or

It's Your Own Damn Fault! Spotted-Owl Soup for the Ignorant Liberal Soul.

Let me know what you think.

It Lives

Damn, it's been awhile since I've written anything. That's largely been due to several factors:

Blog Malaise - it takes time and energy to write, and sometimes you go through those periods where you just don't give enough of a damn about any topic to bother writing your thoughts on it,

Searching for Unemployment - My wife and I are launching our own real estate / finance business in our spare time. Actually, it's been more like sparse time.

Fear of Committment - Starting writing is like quitting smoking. Or starting flossing. You have to REALLY want to do it to force yourself to begin. Once you get in the habit (or out of it) it becomes easier. And like I said, time is scarce these days.

Der Fuhrer Requires Attention - Now that my daughter is crawling and (almost) walking, it takes approximately .001 picoseconds for her to get into trouble. Plus, she's just getting to be a lot of fun to play with and watch as she discovers all the new things she can do.

So, I'll be updating and pinging on a semi-regular basis from now on - hopefully I can crank out at least one good rant per week.

When the eye starts twitching, it's time to let the poison out.