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December 15, 2005

get out of my way

Here's a bit of nonsense.  Did a little pre-work Secret Santa shopping in NY's famed Herald Square, and I have a few suggestions:

FIRST, always wait 'til the day of the workplace Christmas party to purchase Secret Santa gift.  To do otherwise is to squander maximum novelty.

SECOND, schoolchildren field trips plus subway commuting equals only your first headache of the day.  Remember that while the NYC Board of Ed generally forbids corporal punishment, you yourself are not governed by their puny rules.  Also exiting subway and walking is good, and practice for super-scary transit strike.

THIRD, get out of my way.  Yes, buildings are tall, move.

FOURTH, yeah, sure, go ahead and get a gift certificate.  Nothing says, "I have fulfilled my stupid obligation, now where's dinner?" like a gift certificate.

FIFTH, yes, your wife is a good source for advice on what to get your target if your target is a woman, but it leaves you with the strange feeling that women are all alike, and then you welcome everyone to the greatest resort in the Catskills, loosen your bow tie, rim shot, etc.

SIXTH, just for larfs, tell salesgirl, "Yeah, it's a Secret Santa gift, but it's gotta be good 'cause I think it's my last chance to nail her."  Then flash wedding band and leer at salesgirl.

SEVENTH, get out of my way.  Is sidewalk, not closet.  Go retie your scarf in the middle of traffic, please.  Honking means love.

EIGHTH, ship your children to a duckfarm safehouse in Long Island like right now!  There's a transit strike a comin', you fools, you fools! [; Panic harder!

FINALLY, get out of my fucking way, you fuck.  If you're so bad off, why not regain consciousness and call yourself an ambulance?  Better, let me: You're an ambulance!  Haw!  Now get out of my way.

Happy Workplace Christmas Party Season, everybody.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:26 AM

December 14, 2005

transit strike

Today is the day when all good New Yorkers write and talk about a possible transit strike.  So welcome to it.  Even people who are not New Yorkers are today remarking to themselves, "My, those New Yorkers do go on about their transit strikes."

Some cities get ego-checked by tornadoes, others by floods.  Ours here in NY are usually of the manmade breakdown-of-the-social-order variety, like blackouts.  Oh, and transit strikes.  If you are unfamiliar with the big bad transit strike scare, go check Gothamist's very handy collection of links.

I always lean towards welcoming the possible event.  A transit strike would be a moment of high novelty -- 8 million people scrambling.  It sounds a perverse pleasure, but its not.  It's the one time in NY when everyone ramps down the asshole and actually come together in some non-superficial way.  Yes, "ramps down the asshole."  It's true.

Plus also I'm a labor man, a believer in collective bargaining and in the right of the workers to strike.  Not that I work in a field that collectively bargains, sadly.  And if you live in NY, you know that management, the MTA, is about the vilest organization in the city, with a history of book-cooking and a general refusal to cede any kind of transparency to the city at all.  That's pretty galling for a public agency, and so it's hard to take their side at all.

So I say bring the strike if the MTA does not make an offer that the union (who can be kind of batshit sometimes as well -- that's the fun part of picking sides) can abide, and I will prepare to walk the five miles to work on Friday, in the snow, uphill both ways.

Tomorrow is the day that everyone stops talking about an impending strike, as panic sets in and citizens begin to hoard water and canned food.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:45 AM

December 13, 2005

fresh new outrage

Maybe you remember the "Free Speech Zones" from the last presidential election.  They were these little pens, usually removed from the action, that the authorities would set up at big events, like conventions or campaign rallies.  Inside the pens was the only place that protesters were allowed to protest -- hence, "Free Speech Zone".  Actually, I'm unsure if the label "Free Speech Zone" was originally intended to be ironic, or if it was another example of how desperately ignorant the dudes are that run the Bush Admin "nomenclature department".

Well, today I read a DailyKos diary detailing how the revised Patriot Act has a new provision which enables the Secret Service to designate certain public gatherings "national special security event".  And it would then become a felony to "disrupt" such NSSE.  It is not event a stretch to construe "disrupt" as "arrive at a Bush rally in a vehicle with a 'Gore 2000" bumpersticker.

I'm no Constitutional scholar, but I have no knowledge of any law or regulation that empowers the Secret Service as arbiters of free speech.

You could maybe call your congressman, but what's that gonna do besides put you on their Christmas card list, really?

The really beautiful thing is that I'm sure if, say, one hundred websites of similar beliefs and temperament decided to devote time singularly to unearthing and documenting tiny (but documented) attempts to abrogate any of our enumerated Constitutional rights in the interest of politics and/or power aggregation, we could easy each find a different example, daily.

Which would be many many examples, each a little baby outrage that, if we feed it and change its water daily, may someday grow up to be a big outrage, like this new defilement of the Constitution.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:02 AM

December 12, 2005

sam seder loves christmas

Real quick.  Just in case you lag twenty minutes behind the e-zeitgeigt, there is some video footage you would be better off watching than not.  No, no summaries, just the link, which is the place you will find it.

Plus, for the record, I always thought that Sam Seder was one of the guys recruited for Air America Radio that was born for he job.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:31 PM

nice job, death penalty

I've believed this since I was old enough to have a conscience:  The death penalty is just plain wrong.  There are circumstances that you can ethically rationalize taking another's life (and wouldn't it be fun to spend a few weeks arguing about them?), but punishment for a crime committed is not one of them.  Sorry, bloodseekers, I'm right and you're wrong.  It's a coward's way out, societally, and the rest of the "civilized" world gave it up years ago.

Which is all just a digression before I wonder out loud if LA is going to go up like kindling when they kill Tookie Williams?

Put me down for hoping for the best and fearing the worst.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:51 PM

good morning iraq

Yes, I will split hairs with you, O Yahoo! Headline Box:
• Bush encourages Iraqis in democratic vote

Because, you see, before we freedom-loving Americans wrapped our arms around the people of Iraq and invaded the shit out of them, the only votes they got to have were fascist votes and communist votes, or, even worse, socialist votes.

To be fair, I'm sure that a nice day at the polls will go a long way in convincing the Iraqi people that all those dead relatives and all the destroyed infrastructure was worth it.  Like, totally.

Meanwhile, if you want some really hot voting action, go check the Ohio State Legislature's idea of voting rights.  It reads like a de facto confession of every evil election-rigging tactic used by the Ohio GOP.  And the funniest part is that there's a really good chance it'll become law!  Haw!

Hey, Ohio!  How's it feel when them Iraqi purple-fingers got a better chance for a fair election than you do?

Posted by mrbrent at 12:49 PM

December 11, 2005


Last night I went to a "special screening" of the new film "Syriana".  You know, the kind where you sit in a big room with a lot of people who eats snacks in crinkly paper bags while the movie is, I guess, "projected" or something like that.  Plus also it cost money.

I recommend the movie very much.  It is of the dark science fiction/horror genre.  It takes place in this patently false alternate reality where Western governments and megabusiness interests conspire to rape and pillage an entire subcontinent over a magic fluid, all out in the open-like.  Chilling if implausible.

George Clooney was in it, and he acted haunted and desperate, which makes me think that he is actually like that, and his glib playboy celebrity persona may be all a big fat act.  There were other movie stars in it as well, along with Amanda Peet as "The Suffering Wife".

Really, you should see it -- a heartwarming parable of "We are soooo fucked."

Posted by mrbrent at 2:37 PM