Category Archives: Rant

Don’t Eat The Yellow eSnow

Seriously, y’all.

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Just Tell Us What We Owe, Fer Crissake: A Tax Time Rant

 

Taxes 1913

Dear state and federal government, tax time is fast approaching and of course there is no time to do it this year. Which is kind of the refrain every year IF anyone brings it up. Few people do. They’re busier talking about “abolish the IRS” because that would totally stop people from cheating on their taxes (or mainly corporations and the people with the largest potential tax liability), or “let’s have a flat tax,” because that wouldn’t hurt the poor far more than it hurts the rich (10% of vitally needed food and rent money vs. 15% or 20% of income that is mostly disposable – I know which side of THAT stick I’m rather be holding and which side would be, ah, fecally augmented) or “STUPID TAXES WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO PAY FOR THINGS I’M NOT USING AT THE MOMENT” like they don’t benefit from stuff like the roads they drive on (and which makes transport for goods easy, which keeps prices lower at the stores) and the fire departments that keep their neighborhoods from burning down, the police that discourage people from breaking into their house and pillaging them, and the schools that educate kids so we’re not drowning in way more unskilled labor than we can use and having a majority of the people being desperate and ready to riot. I could go on, but I’m WAY off track as it is.

Doing taxes. It sucks. If you’re lucky enough to have nobody but yourself in your life (if you call that luck; I have been there and I call it lonely) it’s not too hard to do your own EZ form, though I have seen folks at tax prep businesses shelling out cash to have someone else fill it in, for some weird reason. But for most people (and gawd forbid you own a small business that’s not large enough to have a professional accountant or two on staff) it’s a choice between spending hours poring through instruction books and arcane forms, or paying someone else a few hundred bucks to navigate the occult incantations that result in a refund, or at least the payment that you actually owe instead of more because you missed some credit or deduction.

And if you’re badly wrong to their detriment, the government will send you a letter that basically says, “you really screwed this up – either do over or just send us X dollars to make up the difference.”

Which brings me straight to the point of my little rant: GOVERNMENT, YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW MUCH WE MAKE, WHO IS IN OUR FAMILIES, AND HOW MUCH WE’RE SUPPOSED TO OWE OR HAVE REFUNDED.

Y’all know! And still we have to go through this bureaucratic paper-pushing like it’s 1913 and this income tax crap is new to everyone.

Look, I don’t mind paying taxes. I like good roads and law enforcement when it’s not misapplied by beating the hell out of or killing people who deserve due process like, unfortunately, WAY too many POC. I like fire departments and agencies that tell factories that no, they are not allowed to dump spare chemicals in the water table that feed the reservoirs I drink from. I like agencies that tell employers that it’s better to take some frickin’ precautions than kill off or cripple employees because, hey, a lot of people need jobs, we’ll just get another one when we break this one.

I like stuff like space programs, and even the military if only ours would calm down a bit and stop bombing 47 countries at once (actual count may vary – I really hope not upwards).

I like parkland. I like clean air. I like rivers that don’t catch on fire. I like cities that aren’t obscured by smog.

cayuhoga-river-fireLos Angeles xmas eve 1948_0

I don’t mind paying taxes, just like I don’t mind buying a fishing license that goes to support people to make sure we’re not overfishing and to maintain, keep clean, and occasionally restock nice fishing holes.

I do mind the damned paperwork!

There are plenty of countries that just figure your taxes for you and send you a postcard that basically says “please verify this amount and send your payment or receive your refund, or tell us if we’ve got something wrong or you believe you are entitled to pay less or get more back.”

We could do that. Maybe someone could ask those counties how they do it?

But, spoiler: Y’ALL GOVERNMENT FOLKS ALREADY KNOW HOW MUCH WE OWE SO LET’S JUST DO THE ABOVE INSTEAD OF ALL THE STUPID FORMS IN THE HOPES WE SCREW UP AND YOU GET TO SCREW US FOR EXTRA TAX AND PENALTIES.

Thanks for your time, government. I’m sure you’ll get it right. Probably shortly after I go for a nice dirtnap in (hopefully) fifty years or so.

END

(This post appeared on my Patreon page a week before it appeared here. Why not be a patron and see this stuff early, and sometimes even get a free ebook?)

NOW Let’s See You Poop On My Baby Lettuces, You Frickin Cats

Bamboo skewers, three bucks for a hundred.

No cats get speared because when a cat is looking for a congenial place to poop they sniff around instead of leaping in eyes shut.

They come sniffing around and if you’ve placed your skewers well, they realize it’s too much bother and go somewhere else.

It’s great for planters like this, but if you have a larger garden I’m afraid you’re going to have to invest in a fence if you have the same infestation of pooping cats.

Crisis Actor Elvis, Waiting For Assignment

 

Perhaps you’re aware of the various “false flag” theories that mass shootings as in Sandy Hook and Parkland never happened. Of course you are, you’re on the internet enough to have found this little authorpage and blog.

These conspiracy theorists compare pictures from different mass shootings and disasters, looking for similarities in people. When they find someone who sorta looks like someone else, they consult the magic chemtrail crystal ball and, lo and behold, it PROVES IT’S THE SAME PERSON IN A THINLY VEILED DISGUISE.

Their false flag crisis actor theory depends upon the fact that, like snowflakes, no two humans look at all like each other. Ever.

Which brings us to Elvis performer and lookalike Donny Edwards, pictured above in full regalia.

BUT WE KNOW TWO PEOPLE CANNOT LOOK ALIKE.

So he must be Real Elvis, preserved in unaging immortality perhaps by turning the mind control drug exuded by venomous vampires called fluoride against itself. Ha! TAKE THAT, SECRET GLOBALIST ARMY TUNNELING UNDER THE OCEAN FROM CHINA AND EUROPE TO TAKE OVER THE UNITED STATES IN THE NAME OF THE REPTILE ALIEN CONTROLLED UNITED NATIONS!

For what sinister purpose is Real Elvis — because, remember, no two humans look alike — hanging around?

I’ll leave you to think about it. Maybe you should secure your house in a thick wrapping of tinfoil and duct tape while you consider.

Things The World Doesn’t Need:

…A live action Jetsons reboot.

I get it. Gen X is hitting middle age and we’ve got about as much money as we’ll ever have as a generation. We’ve got kids and some of us have young grandkids (not me yet).

And we like to watch cartoony stuff.

And, it seems to me, we’re practically maudlin in our nostalgia.

We’re a great market for this crap, and so are the millennials whose ears we’ve talked off about how awesome our childhood stuff was.

But still. The world doesn’t need more derivative crap, not least because 99% of it is done AWFULLY. I’d rather see something new.

SHOCK Star Wars Has Politics And Strong Women And People Of Color And GASP GAY PEOPLE?

(This post first appeared on my Patreon page. Come on by and visit!)

I’ve seen, and you’ve probably seen, a certain amount of “alt-right” and company (social injustice warriors, as I think of them) complaining about the SUDDEN APPEARANCE of the above in the Star Wars universe.

Which might lead you to wonder if any of the complainers actually watched any Star Wars anything (much less any of the novels).

–Politics: baked right into the very core of Star Wars. Hello, a republic grown complacent and clogged with bureaucracy and clinging to tradition is upended by a genocidal authoritarian dictatorship, giving rise to a resistance movement… yeah. Politics, man.

–Strong women: Look, Leia was pretty badass even back in the first movie. She only got tougher as things went along. And now, of course, Carrie Fisher has become more powerful than you could imagine. So, yeah. Not a shock if more tough women are showing up.

–POC: A weakness of the Star Wars movies in the beginning, and a shame Lando Calrissian was the only significant nod to the existence of people other than Caucasians in the beginning — a lack made even more obvious by the huge diversity of aliens running around. Frankly, it’s good to see more human diversity in more recent movies.

–LGBTQ: Basically, see above (though the aliens observation, already a minor side-point of my perception, grows strained here as I’m not sure I remember a lot of alien sexuality showing up either). Cheers to more human diversity. We’ve got lots of it on only one planet, and how many planets are humans on in the Star Wars universe? Yeah.

Look, provincial and insular people can yearn for provinciality and insularism all they want, but rapid and relatively cheap travel plus the instant worldwide multimedia communication environment of the internet will inevitably keep drawing our world together and exposing all of us to each others’ diverse everything. Diversity isn’t some weird left-wing fetish, it’s a FACT OF LIFE.

So, if someone (hello, social injustice warriors) wants to cling to the past: keep clinging, or alternately stop and admit the plain fact that life is change and change will keep happening whether you rage against it or tolerate it or accept it or embrace it. I know of those four options, embracing is by far the most positive and fun.

The “best” angry clingers could accomplish is dragging humanity back into a primitive insular xenophobic barbarity we haven’t even managed to fully exit yet. We’re a half-birthed civilization. Don’t let the technology fool you. The clingers (Klingons? Wrong universe, but still…) say society has gone to far, but it hasn’t gone far enough yet. Being born is the hardest part. Well, until death, but that needn’t come for humanity for a long time if we get our butts off this one little planet… but that’s another rant and one I come back to often.

Anyhow, angry Klingons: let go of your anger. That way leads to the Dark Side and a big smelly pile of Sith (seriously, that name, geez).

Snow Time To Panic

Snowpocalypse Raleigh NC

No, this isn’t Norfolk, Virginia where I live. This is Raleigh, North Carolina a relatively short drive south, a few years ago. But we react to snow about the same way around here. Our AT-ATs are a touch smaller, though.

So today (Wednesday the 3rd of this brave new world of 2018) I had a mental healthcare appointment to keep (no emergencies — in fact, I’ve been feeling better than I have for the past 3 or 4 years). I first set up these appointments when the family car was working, but because I am a prescient prophet capable of seeing that driving 20 year old cheap beater cars means we’ll be carless from time to time when one dies, I chose a practice in walking distance.

And of course it’s winter when the car chooses to die, the jerky little bastard. And of course the Earth’s hat of cold air has lately slipped rakishly to the side and we’re under all that fine polar air right now while the precious icecap continues melting in frickin January.

But the walk isn’t so bad because it’s over freezing unlike the walk I had to take for yesterday’s appointment, and the legacy of a Wisconsin childhood is knowing how to dress for cold. Only my cane hand gets truly cold, and maybe my nose.

My appointment was on one side of a rectangular route with one of the two grocery stores in walking distance on the other side of it on the way home, so instead of taking the shorter route back home I figured I’d stop by the store as long as I was already walking and pick up a few odds and ends like some apples and pears for the children who, I am very happy to report, can chow fresh fruit like champions and do at every opportunity. Yay, nutrition!

I wasn’t planning on picking up enough things to justify taking along the collapsible cart I recently bought thanks to my Patreon patrons, so I brought an empty backpack. All good. Planning ahead.

But what I did not plan on — and I should have known better given my past experience as a manager in the grocery biz — was the forecast of 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast for tonight (there’s a bit less than an inch on the ground as I type this, and the snow is beginning to come down again after taking a break for nightfall) and what it would mean for my mission.

In Norfolk, Virginia where close proximity to the ocean gentles the temperatures, this is a MASSIVE BLIZZARD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OH GOD.

The grocery store was clotted with swarms of half-crazed customers. Like, a no shopping carts available, I got one of the last 6 or 7 handbaskets swarm of shoppers — and at that point, not a single snowflake had fallen yet.

Ew, a handbasket. I don’t like using them anymore, because they unbalance me due to my limp and bone-on-bone hip, and I already limp heavily enough even with the cane thankyouverymuch.

I almost decided to say screw it and head home. But, the kids want apples. And the wife’s upset tummy craves full-sugar Coca Cola (which horrifies me; as my grandma’s good little boy I cleave to her teaching that 7-Up is the magic tonic that soothes all ills).

So I shop.

Weather panics are weird.

Some of it is predictable. Half the bread aisle is blown out, as it always is when bad weather threatens. Apparently there’s something about blizzards and hurricanes and nor’easters that makes people crave sandwiches and toast.

The bottled water is also half blown out. Because if anything is scarce during a blizzard, it’s water which is LAYING ALL OVER THE GROUND A FOOT THICK JUST SHOVEL A FEW DRINKS INTO A BUCKET AND BRING IT IN TO THAW FER CRISSAKE. Also, since when does a blizzard knock out the water supply? Your pipes shouldn’t be freezing, because you should be running your water if it’s that damn cold. And the snow will insulate the crawlspace under your home. It’ll actually be warmer under there than it has the last 3 or 4 nights with the cold snap.

And, this is the one that really gets me, and I’ve seen it before (and it’s weirder than anything else I’ve seen in a storm except the guy who bought a whole cart full of frozen dinners because he was afraid the hurricane would knock out his electricity, or the woman who bought two dozen (!!) gallons of milk, also in the teeth of an approaching hurricane. WTF!) — the meat case is also half blown out. The hamburger is GONE. And three customers are standing next to the empty hamburger shelf asking each other if there’s any more hamburger anywhere else and when will the butcher bring out more hamburger?

People, if the blizzard comes and knocks out your power, I assume some of you have gas stoves. But not all of you! Are you planning on crouching in your dark living room gnawing a pack of raw hamburger like Gollum gnawing a fish? Do you figure hamburger will cook itself up if you toss it into one of the snowdrifts in your front yard?

Is there something about a snowstorm that demands you start a cookout?

Is there some theory I’ve never heard of that says you can save yourself from freezing to death if your home is heatless by covering yourself with ground beef?

People are weird.

Bioasis

If you haven’t already seen it, the largest grasshopper I have seen in the city in many years is perched on the brown cattail in the foreground. On what the “let’s spite the liberals by pooping where we eat” crowd would call a ‘hippie-dippy waste of money,’ a patch of wetland the size of a small above-ground swimming pool nestled between parking lots of a local hospital along a rainwater drainage path.

Yep, it probably cost a few bucks to put it there and costs a few to maintain it.

Well, we’re creatures of nature and it does us good to see a little soft, verdant goodness among the hard, uncaring glass and stone and steel. Humans do not live by asphalt alone, nor should they.

I wish we had many more of those little biological oases in the city.

Insurance Accountants Decide If You Get To Live: A Twitter Rant Followed By A Here Rant

(PATREON PATRONS: I’m sorry this is here and not on Patreon first. Patreon does not support embedding Twitter rants, and I kind of need them there for this one. Sincerely, I’m sorry you didn’t get to see this first, because this is a quality post. I won’t do this often, and I’ll make it up to you. *WRITES FICTION FURIOUSLY*)

I threw some related tweets on at the end. This is our reality in the USA: our care is outrageously expensive — the most expensive in the world by about double the next costliest nation — in order to pay unneeded middlemen: insurance companies. Our prices skyrocket to pay multimillion dollar salaries to the upper ranks of health insurance and health care provider corporations.

And to preserve those bonuses, those same executives slash access to care, are working on slashing the unprofitable right into the grave to make way for healthy people whose insurance costs continue to rise year after year.

Obamacare was better than what we had before. It hindered the ability of insurance company accountants to decide you needed to die to preserve their profits. It slightly dented the steady rise of health insurance premiums, which have continued to outstrip inflation by a mile for at least 30 years.

But before Obamacare was Obamacare, it was (Republican Mitt) Romneycare. It was the GOP counterproposal to universal healthcare, and as such it was designed to protect insurance and healthcare corporation profits at the expense of the lifespans and quality of life of the American people. And it shows.

We pay more as a nation for healthcare, and our lives are growing shorter and sicker. That’s what we’re buying for all that money. That, and a lot of yachts and fat tax-sheltered accounts in the Cayman Islands for fatcats.

But don’t just believe me. Read about our falling lifespans and sicker lives in Bloomberg, which isn’t exactly known for being a liberal rag.

“But,” you might say, “I’ve heard such terrible things about socialized healthcare.”

Sure, you have. I have too. But the simple fact of the matter is that in any nation with per capita or absolute wealth anywhere NEAR the same ballpark as the USA’s, it does a better job making citizens healthy, happy, and productive than our current or past system has managed to do here in the USA.

Here’s a conservative-slanted Forbes article about ten nations with economies considered more free than the US economy, but which have universal healthcare — which as you recall some of our own GOP hysterically calls “slavery.” I’m not agreeing with all the author’s points — but read it anyway. Overall it backs up what I’m saying above, but from another point of view and with some different conclusions that are, perhaps, less shaded by my own life, in which I have lived with a minor congenital hip deformity that has escalated into me needing a cane for mobility for the last six years (I’m only 47, DAMMIT) and suffering significant, life-and-mood-changing chronic pain. And why do I live with this pain and chronic suffering? Because my hip has never been a threatening emergency, so it’s not treatable. What could have been fixed in a couple of hours 20 years ago now requires a hip replacement I won’t get anytime soon unless I break my hip, in which case doctors will have to replace it (so a doctor specializing in hip replacement surgery has told me) because it wouldn’t heal soundly — and in fact is in danger of becoming necrotic (dead and rotting) because all the cartilage is worn away in there and some of the bone, and bone rubbing on bone and slowly grinding itself to death not only HURTS, but it also squeezes blood vessels and threatens the vital blood supply to keep the bone alive in there.

But I rant.

Takeaway: look, I like several aspects of capitalism. I’m trying to sell you books so I can earn money to make my family’s life better (HINT HINT HEY BUY MY BOOKS PLEASE), and so I am a one-person small business.

But NO SYSTEM SOLVES EVERY PROBLEM. Example: do you know why your local big grocery store has great low prices on an enormous selection of food? Because we have an AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST INTERSTATE SYSTEM that makes trucking all that food to your store WAY faster and cheaper than the privatized equivalent, a chaotic web of toll roads governed by whoever happens to own each 20 mile stretch — even if they could all coordinate their efforts, which they couldn’t. And the AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST INTERSTATE SYSTEM is safer than trucking my Washington apples the 2,900-ish miles to Norfolk, Virginia over a chaotic web of toll roads each built to a different company standard of composition and safety and not, after all, guarded by AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST FEDERAL AND STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, but by whatever hooligans the local privatized road company could scrape together to protect their toll roads, probably by shooting anyone who looks suspicious from long range because, hey, that’s cheaper than taking chances. Nevermind that my Washington apples now cost $50/lb because of all the dead truckers in ditches with rotting loads of apples behind them.

Yeah, I’ve digressed. But you get the point. Pure ideologies suck, and capitalism is no exception. Just as a healthy diet requires diverse foods to meet our bodies’ many requirements, so a healthy nation requires diverse approaches to meet our peoples’ many requirements.

Healthcare doesn’t work well managed purely by capitalism. Like interstate highways, we need to all contribute a bit of our taxes toward creating and preserving a solid system that meets many needs for all our people.

Treehugging Is Good For You

I’ve heard the “treehugger” sneer often enough in my life, and it makes no sense to me.

As if valuing the resources and beauty in nature is bad. As if having some housepride in our common home, Earth, and keeping it looking and functioning well is foolish.

As if simply not metaphorically pooping where we all live and eat is a terrible idea.

As if trashing things is a higher good and leaving a useless garbage pit to our grandchildrens’ grandchildren is wise.

Stop and think, sneerers. And then maybe go out and hug a tree. It feels good.