Talk About a Complete Outrage!

"I can't believe this is happening! It's a living nightmare! Why me? WHY ME?"
“I can’t believe this is happening! It’s a living nightmare! Why me? WHY ME?”

I’ve gotten lazy about posting – typically, I really need my dander to be gotten up to generate sufficient energy to bash out some screed. Well, today’s NY Times Style section – the section which typically gets me almost as riled as the Op-Ed and Business sections – really outdid itself, with this piece on the terrible scourge of people not receiving wedding gifts. I mean, sure, chemical warfare in Syria is pretty bad – but can you imagine not receiving a wedding gift? Have you no sense of decency?

For that matter, Ms. Kaas Boyle can also recall, in elaborate detail, which guests relished the five-course dinner at the ornate Rex Il Ristorante (now shuttered), and still failed to give a present.

Nineteen years later, it still irks her.

Nineteen years! NINETEEN YEARS! IN ELABORATE DETAIL! She is still holding a grudge because someone couldn’t buy her some tchotchke to gather dust in her house? I’m the first to admit to be being petty and mean-spirited – but this gal makes me feel like I’m the Dalai Lama!

And get this from Jodi R. R. Smith, an “etiquette expert in Marblehead, Mass., and consultant for the wedding industry” [Ed. note: “wedding industry” is a deeply depressing phrase for so many reasons]:

The way Ms. Smith sees it, it’s acceptable to confront those guests who have failed to send even a token. The best way to do so is with a delicate, in-person conversation. “You tell them that you’ve been writing your thank-you notes and realized that you haven’t written one to them: it’s an ‘I’ statement,” she said. “Then you let the other person talk. Either they’ll say: ‘What are you talking about? I gave you the serving platter off your registry.’ Computer glitches happen. You can then say, ‘I’m happy to follow up.’ If they look at you like deer in the headlights, count to the beat of three and move the conversation along to a totally different topic. Then you wait and see if the gift card shows up.”

She is no expert in etiquette if she thinks that “it’s acceptable to confront those guests who have failed to send even a token.” In fact, I’d venture to say that the word “confront” would never appear in any discussion of “etiquette.” And while it may indeed be customary to send a gift to newlyweds, it is never an obligation – NEVER. There is never any circumstance where one is required to provide someone with a gift. And to inquire as to why one hasn’t received a gift is possibly the grossest interpretation of etiquette I’ve ever heard.

Let’s take a lesson from actual etiquette expert, Judith Martin a.k.a. Miss Manners:

Etiquette is a little social contract we make that we well restrain some of our more provocative impulses in return for living more or less harmoniously in a community.

Of course, on top of just the all-around foulness of the whining greed-heads in the article, I can’t help but trot out the fact that most states in this country still outlaw same-sex marriage. My sister and her partner of over a decade just announced that they are headed to the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office on Tuesday, now that a judge has found that discriminating against same-sex couples who wish to marry is, in fact, unconstitutional in New Mexico. Like most same-sex couples who have been waiting years, even decades, for the opportunity to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex married couples, I can state pretty much unequivocally that my sis and sis-in-law are not concerned in the slightest with from whom or even whether they receive any wedding gifts.

Now, not sending thank you notes? Well, that’s a different story…

I Feel Pretty! Oh So Pretty!

Another weekend, another bout of trying to ameliorate my singledom via the wonderful world of gay “social” apps. I was checking out dudes on one of said apps (not Grindr, because just no). Now, I will be the first to acknowledge that many of the users of this particular app are looking for interactions that are primarily physical and fleeting – which is fine, but not my cup of tea. Sap that I am, I’m actually looking to meet someone who might want to do something like go out for a drink, have some dinner or go for a bike ride. And I’ve had some limited success.

But anyhow, I saw some guy’s profile. He was a handsome sort and this was the extent of his description:

conv0

Now, I probably have only myself to blame here, given that of the seven photos included in his profile, six of them showed him shirtless. Far be it from me to generalize, but this is not typically an indicator of a person who is, for lack of a better phrase, my kind of people. But respond I did, thusly:

conv1

Not exactly Wilde-esque, I admit, but innocuous enough. Just a friendly hello, with a winky emoticon to keep it easy-breezy-beautiful. No “DTF?” or “Sup” or blatant sexual solicitation – a simple greeting. So, here’s his response:

conv2

Word to the wise: a sentence starting with the modifier “This will sound totally awful…” is a strong indicator that what is to follow might be best left unexpressed (this also applies to sentences starting with “I don’t mean to sound racist but…” and “Well, to be perfectly honest…”). Also, as a general rule, people do not take kindly to criticisms of their physical appearance from strangers. I know, it’s crazy! But people just don’t care for it!

Of course at this point, I should have just moved on – but if you note the time, you’ll realize that I was at the tail end of a bottle of my favorite moderately-priced Spanish rosé. And thus probably more loquacious than was appropriate. So I wrote back:

conv3

OK, yes, it was smart-ass response. And including a phrase en français may not have been the best choice (though both my Francophilia and pretension are well-known) – but it was, if you’ll (literally) pardon my French, le mot juste, non? I don’t think it was a particularly nasty reply – but it did call him out on being kind of dickish without actually using the word “dickish.” Plus, a smiley face! Easy-breezy!

Anyhoo, off to bed, didn’t give it a second thought, whatevs. But apparently he was still reflecting on things the next day and treated me to this charming response the following evening:

conv4

Oh man, there is a lot to parse here!

“The stylist inside of me” – well, the stylist inside of you seems to have an aversion to shirts, so I’m not fully on board with this stylist’s qualifications.

“if you’re interested in attracting a man like me…” – “which you are” Um, no.

“sans ink and jewelry” Oh, so you know French too? Formidable!

“(even though I LOVE it when it works)” Yes, I get it – it doesn’t work on me. You are a true master of subtlety.

“props and trinkets” Look, just because I was wearing my Mardi Gras beads and holding one of my Precious Moments™ figurines in my profile photo is no reason to judge me!

Anyway, it was awfully tempting to respond – but really what would be the point? Though with that being said, here are just a few of the responses that popped into my head:

  • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
  • Thanks for the advice! I’ll be sure to contact you again when I’ve remodeled my physical appearance to adhere to your standards.
  • My cat’s name is Mittens.
  • tl; dr
  • Dale Carnegie, I presume?
  • I’m also ugly on the inside!
  • Go fuck yourself.
  • Oh, you’re a stylist? How can you find the time to message me, what with your busy schedule dressing JLo?
  • Somebody hold my jewelry…
  • I can assure you unreservedly, I have no interest whatsoever in attracting a man like you.
  • My nipples explode with delight!
  • “If you liked it then you should’ve put a ring on it.” Were truer words ever spoken? I think not…
  • What’s the longest book you’ve ever read? And, no, the September issue of Vogue doesn’t count.

And while I suppose the fact that I’m posting this somewhat belies my claiming  to take the high road here, I think I do deserve a bit of credit for not posting this fellow’s photo or screen name. And, for the record, here’s the entirety of our interaction. I wouldn’t want to be accused of editing this to portray myself in a more favorable light!

Yes, It’s Still About Race

unbalanced_scaleWhen I wake up in the morning, I turn on the local news, mainly for the weather forecast. The rest of the broadcast is predictably glib and annoying and focused largely on topics that are not newsworthy. And then at 7:00AM, the national morning programs come on – basically the same b.s. but with more polished newsreaders and higher production values. Why do I torment myself with this drivel?

This morning on CBS, they showed clips from Anderson Cooper’s interview with juror B37 from the George Zimmerman trial. This is the same gal who had inked a book deal within 36 hours of the conclusion of the trial. Granted, she backed out of the deal soon after, but I think this is a textbook example of my favorite Law & Order phrase – “you can’t unring the bell.”

One of the things that struck me in particular during the interview was her use of the passive voice when describing the case:

I feel sorry for Trayvon and the situation he was in.

The “situation” that Trayvon Martin was in was precipitated solely by George Zimmerman.  It didn’t “just happen” out of thin air – Mr. Zimmerman alone made a number of decisions and took actions that led directly to his confrontation with and subsequent shooting and killing of Mr. Martin.

And this:

It’s just hard. Thinking that somebody lost their life. And there’s nothing else that could be done about it.

This was just so bizarre to me. “Somebody lost their life.” No, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. That is a fact that has never been in question – yet this juror seems to view it as some sort of vague inevitability, something that could neither have been prevented nor for which the perpetrator could be held responsible. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to acknowledge that there is a perpetrator. It’s quite difficult to disagree with this TPM post stating that “juror B37 is not only ignorant but militantly ignorant.”

But what followed was even more distressing (I almost said “shocking” – though then I realized I’m about as shocked as Capt. Renault). The juror stated her view, in response to Mr. Cooper’s question, that she didn’t believe race played a role in what happened. This certainly seems in keeping with the juror’s narrow and insulated world view – but the part that I found so terrible was the news anchors’ grabbing onto this as evidence that this trial and the events leading up to it were not in fact about race. Rich white lady Norah O’Donnell seemed quite comfortable to close the whole racism chapter because one juror says it wasn’t about race. I mean, if one juror claims that the case wasn’t about race, well, then, I guess it can’t possibly be about race!

Now, I don’t think I have a particularly in-depth understanding of racism in America – I am white after all – but I feel quite confident in saying that when white people proclaim that the shooting and killing of an unarmed 17-year-old black youth is not about race, they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about.

Ken Mehlman: A Kinder, Gentler Roy Cohn

This bitch.
This bitch.

Disgusting shitbird Ken Mehlman, the formerly-closeted gay Republican strategist, was profiled in the NYT today – and all I can say is “feh!” This despicable quisling was a key player in W.’s 2004 election (N.B.: Let’s not forget that W was appointed to his first term, not elected) and used  opposition to same-sex marriage not just as a key plank in the Republican platform, but to whip up the conservative base and appeal to their rank homophobia. Thanks in large part to this strategy chosen and embraced by this amoral opportunist, 21 states have amended their constitutions to forbid same-sex marriage, enshrining discrimination against gay men and lesbians as the law of the land in these states. (And let’s not forget the over 4,000 U.S. and coalition troops and 130,000 civilians killed in Iraq. Or the near-destruction of the U.S. economy. Nice work, Kenny!)

 “This is not just any Republican — this is one of the single greatest successful strategists for Republicans,” Mr. [Chad] Griffin [president of the Human Rights Campaign] said of Mr. Mehlman. “And now he’s on our side.”

Well, you know what, Chad? I don’t want him on our side. And we don’t need him on our side. Same-sex marriage is now supported by a majority of Americans. It’s coming – maybe sooner, maybe later, but it’s coming. And I’d be happy to wait a bit longer rather than to embrace someone like Mehlman, who took the dicks out of his mouth just long enough to make sure that gay men and lesbians were vilified and despised – while lining his own pockets in the process

The article seems to imply that there is an even divide regarding Mehlman’s reputation, now that he’s “apologized” and is working as an advocate for same-sex marriage. But please read the comments – it’s pretty clear that most still see Ken Mehlman for what he is – a foul, immoral, selfish individual who is perfectly content to sacrifice principle for his own benefit. Truly a shonda to his people.

And New Yorkers? Please shun this terrible, terrible person. And gays? Don’t fuck him. Don’t have brunch with him.  Throw him major shade. Tell him to sashay away. He does not deserve to be a part of our community.

Not Cool, FedEx Driver, Not Cool…

I was riding my bike home after work on Friday, June 13, using the marked bicycle lane on Howard St. here in SF. And, for the third day in a row, came across a FedEx delivery truck parked in front of 500 Howard thusly:

The white line on the left is the bike lane marker.
The white line on the left is the bike lane marker.
And here one can see that the driver had plenty of room to keep from blocking the bike lane.
And here one can see that the driver had plenty of room to keep from blocking the bike lane.

Now, as a regular recipient of packages from FedEx and UPS, I am not unsympathetic to drivers and their need to park their vehicles and keep to their schedule. But given that this fellow had plenty of room both in front of and behind his truck to park in this marked loading zone, his decision to completely block the bike lane is either rank incompetence or a big “fuck you” to cyclists. Frankly, the motivation doesn’t matter. He has created a situation that is dangerous for every cyclist using this heavily-traveled route – and right at the beginning of rush hour.

Howard St. is a one-way, four-lane artery to both the Bay Bridge and the 101 freeway – plus this location at 500 Howard is immediately after a traffic signal – meaning that this FedEx driver’s blocking of the bike lane virtually guarantees interaction between bikes and cars as the bikes are forced to merge into the traffic lane to go around the FedEx truck.

Unfortunately, the driver of the truck was not near his truck on Friday – but I can assure you the next time I come across this (and yes, I’m sure there’ll be a next time – like I said, this was the third day in a row that he’d parked like this) and he’s around, I’ll address it with him directly. But I certainly hope that someone at FedEx sees this post and takes some steps to ensure their drivers don’t engage in such blatant disregard for bicyclists and the CA vehicle code (section 21211, if you’re interested).

Google Now Throws Major Shade at Me

So, for those of you who don’t know (hahaha – stupid iPhone users! And I’m kidding – unlike many iPhone users, I don’t ascribe personality traits to people based on upon their choice in gadgetry [well, except for when I just did exactly that by ascribing gadget snobbery to iPhone users] – I happen to like Android, others prefer iOS, some prefer BlackBerry [ok, those people I do judge – BlackBerry, in this day and age?HAHAHAHAHA! What saps…]. But I digress…), Google Now is a neato-keen component of Jellybean, the latest iteration of the Android OS.

In a nutshell, the app keeps track of where you are, what’s in your calendar, your email, etc. Essentially it’s stalking you, along with some preferences that you set up (e.g. do you commute by car, public transit or bicycle?) and making generally quite accurate assumptions about information you might need that is served to you when you need. For example, if I have a dinner reservation at Locanda at 6PM, as I did the other night, a reminder popped up just before 5:30PM, telling me that if I wanted to be on time, I needed to leave in the next ten minutes. This was based on Google Now knowing where I was (my office) and the schedule for BART (which I’d be taking to Locanda). The same kind of information shows up for airline reservations and other appointments. Also, things like local weather, sports scores, etc., etc. Yes, it’s all kind of big brother-y but it’s not like we’re not all under surveillance anyhow, so why not take advantage of it?

At any rate, you can just imagine my displeasure when THIS particular card showed up unbidden in Google Now, telling me how long it would take me to arrive at a particular establishment:

lanebryant

Though I will grant you this – it was the night after my visit to Locanda. Perhaps I need to take the hint that Google is giving… Sigh.

And Now You Know…

“For the record, we are categorized into two major groups: adult babies or diaper lovers.” Well, DUH.

From an “Ask Isadora” column that ran in the SFBG many years ago.

IMG_0001

 

The more things change…

So, I’ve been on something of a hiatus. Not for any particular reason – mainly work has been extraordinarily busy, and thus very taxing on my increasingly senescent faculties. In other words, by the time I get home, about the only thing on my mind is whether I have sufficient energy and wherewithal to open a bottle of wine requiring a corkscrew and wishing that every bottle came with a screw-top.

In a perhaps-related story, I was searching my apartment for my padded travel sleep mask (as one does) with no results. I did happen across the folder full of childhood memories my mom had saved and given me a couple of years ago, so I decided to take a bit of a stroll down memory lane.

Among other things, I found this: my report card from kindergarten. Keep in mind, I was 5-years-old.

immature copy

“Somewhat immature.” Well, you know what, Mrs. Christiansen? You were a crabby old bag! Though she did at least acknowledge that I contribute to discussions (surprising, I know!).

Then there was this bit from my third grade teacher.

coerce

Seriously, that could’ve been lifted directly from my last performance review at work. Sigh… Who knew that my path in life had already pretty much been laid out at the age of 8?

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

So, sitting at home the other night, minding my own business and cuddling with my kitty, when I hear the knockety-knock from my computer – someone is messaging me on Facebook! Who could it be? And what important news have they to impart?

Here is the message I received verbatim:

This is my Facebook impression of you:

I have a cat but no sex sometimes I eat food and I went to Paris.
I have a cat.
I have a cat.
Look at my cat.

Sigh. Tempting though it might have been to protest this characterization, I really had no alternative but to respond thusly:

accurate

Xbox – Not for Me

FAIL_BOX_360Just got my very first Xbox last Thursday – the 360 with Kinect. And, after spending Friday evening setting it up, on Saturday morning I boxed it back up and returned it to Amazon.

It’s a shame, really, since the Kinect sensor seemed to work quite well and made for some fun games – but by itself, it’s not enough to justify the $250 price tag for the console.

Now, I should point out that I’m not a gamer (and I’m a long-time and generally satisfied user of the various Windows operating systems). However, I’ve had my PlayStation 3 for several years now and have been frankly amazed at everything it can do. I don’t play games too often, but Rock Band, SingStar and Little Big Planet are all great fun and I still play them every now and again. The PS3 also replaced my old DVD player and it does an excellent job with upscaling standard DVDs. Of course, it also plays BluRay and those disks look freakin’ great – especially since I got my big plasma TV. Oh, and it streams Netflix, Hulu, Amazon – pretty much everything – via WiFi or Ethernet connection.

The big selling point to me for the Xbox was the Kinect – and when I used it with Kinect Adventures and Dance Central, it was impressive. What was not impressive? Other than the Kinect, the Xbox offers a markedly subpar selection of features. For example, like the PS3, it offers streaming Netflix et al. – but only if you get a pay subscription to Xbox Live . Now granted, it’s only (“only”) $60 a year – but since I’m already paying Netflix for my subscription and my ISP for bandwidth, why should I also have to pay Microsoft to use the equipment I own in order to stream movies?

What was even more shocking to me? I attempted to use the pre-installed Internet Explorer browser on the Xbox to look something up online – only to be given a message that the browser was only available to Xbox Live paid subscribers! This was a potentially golden opportunity for MS to get me reengaged in using Internet Explorer, a browser I gave up years ago in favor of Firefox and Chrome. Instead, they prevented me from using their browser. Really incredibly stupid from a marketing perspective.

I had also imagined a really tight integration between Xbox and Windows 8, which I’d recently upgraded to at home (I won’t digress too far re. Windows 8, other than to say that it’s Windows 7 with an extra Start screen. All of the various “tiles” in the Metro app have, for me, not added any functionality – or more typically, as with Skype, provide less functionality along with undesirable and unexpected behavior within a somewhat more visually pleasing interface). This, too, was not the case – and was probably the most frustrating experience of my Xbox installation.

While the Xbox was downloading some system updates during set-up, I added the Xbox app to Windows 8 and signed up for the free version of Xbox Live. When I attempted to set up my profile on Xbox, using this same ID (which is also my Windows ID), I got an error that it was already in use and I could not set up a profile. So, I had to create another profile using another email address – a not desirable set-up, since I was anticipating a seamless experience across all Windows platforms with a single ID.

I did find the solution to the specific error message I was getting on the Xbox support site. Here it is and apparently it is not a joke:

xboxgamertage

My favorite bit is the 30-day wait period between steps 3 and 4. Well, that and the fact that you have to create a THIRD account just to get your one account set up properly.

Oh and did I mention that a gamer tag is assigned to you during Xbox Live set up? That’s right – you don’t get an option to create your own user ID, the name that everyone else using Xbox Live will see. You can do this once the profile is set up – but apparently only once every 30 days? Or else (surprise!) for a fee? I have no idea. It was, without hyperbole, the most ridiculous, user-unfriendly, non-intuitive method of creating a profile I’ve ever encountered.

I did eventually straighten things out after 30 minutes on the phone with Xbox support (and having to reset my Windows password, since apparently despite my answering all of the security questions correctly regarding the Windows account I’ve had for years was insufficient to determine that I was the owner of the account. Ridiculous.) But it really painted a sad picture of Microsoft’s ability to integrate their products. I’ve already seen this with MS’s recently-acquired Skype, but was truly surprised that the company can’t provide a decent (let along great) experience for users of their two biggest platforms, both of which have been around for years and years.

The Xbox interface itself is a mess – confusing, unintuitive, filled with ads, options buried deep within sub-menus. Plus, every selection seemed to require the user to answer several questions or confirmations before the task was executed.

Oh, and did I mention that the Xbox doesn’t play BluRay disks? And that the controller comes with a pair of AA batteries rather than being rechargeable? Lame.

Anyway, so long Xbox – I can’t imagine you’ll be welcomed back again. And I just ordered Child of Eden and the PS3 Move controller bundle with Little Big Planet 2 – for just around $100. The $150 I saved versus Xbox can go into my 2013 vacation fund.

Would you please pass the grain of salt?

manners6Does the NYT publish stories, such as this one about providing “etiquette” lessons for upper-middle-class children, purely to provide fodder for the eye-rolling among us? It’s hard to come to any other conclusion, given the highly mockable content.

Obviously as a cranky and childless old queen, I have no experience with and therefore plenty of insight into the raising of children (to quote Fran Lebowitz, I am “familiar with reproduction only insofar as it applies to a too-recently-fabricated Louis XV armoire…”) – and I will say this: I have no issue with the idea of etiquette lessons for children. While the larger purpose of etiquette (or more precisely, good manners) is to be respectful of others and to do what you can to put others at ease, there are certainly a variety of helpful rules surrounding the use of eating utensils  or the writing of thank-you notes, for example, that go a long way to rounding out the education of any child.

But what is apparently being taught to these children (and for a pretty penny, I might add) is simply how to behave themselves with a bare minimum of restraint – which is far different than “etiquette.” Now, I could go on and on about what the hell do these parents expect when they keep the TV on during dinner. And  think that it’s AOK to ignore those around them in favor of texting some inconsequential message composed of indecipherable acronyms and emoticons. And that paying a few hundred bucks to some self-professed (and, I’m guessing here, not especially qualified) “expert” with a penchant for groan-inducing wordplay (“Etiquette Manor”? Just no.) to spend a couple of hours teaching your kids that it’s impolite to scream and yell in the middle of a restaurant. And that none of this is a substitute for a parent teaching through both instruction and example that different situations require different behavior. And I guess to some extent I already have.

Instead, I’d just like to call out a couple of the gems served up by these “experts.”

“These days, you have to teach kids about return on investment,” said Robin Wells, the founder of Etiquette Manor in Coral Gables, Fla [ed.: Florida. Of course]… So, even as she imparts lessons about using forks and the importance of looking the waiter in the eye, she does so by framing the lessons in a constructively selfish way for the children.

Yes, that’s perfect. Don’t be polite or respectful or gracious because it’s appropriate or kind or a way of making others feel at ease. Do it for the “return on investment.” Seriously, parents, please steer clear of any expert who talks about ROI to your kids – they are not helping. And I guess “constructively selfish” is better than plain old “selfish”? Yeah, I’m not buying that either.

When it comes to children, she said, long gone are the days when you could tell them that they have to behave a certain way “just because.”

Incorrect. I have verified this very fact with people who are actually raising children. And by “verified”, I mean I have speculated about the responses of my friends who are parents.

“Say the words ‘manners’ or ‘etiquette’ to kids these days, and they run the other direction,” (Faye de Muyshondt, the founder of Socialsklz) said. She prefers teaching the children that they are “building the brand called ‘you.’ ”

No. NO. N-O.  Do not ever teach children that they are “building the brand called ‘you’” – the likely result will be your very own little Patrick (or Patricia) Bateman. Or, even worse, a child who grows up and willingly chooses to pursue a career in marketing.

Also? If someone names their etiquette learnin’ company “Socialsklz,” that should tell you just about everything you need to know about this person’s actual grasp of the subject matter.

The only person in the article who comes off reasonably well is one Joseph Kowal, owner of Chenery Park restaurant here in SF, where there is a weekly “family night” and children are expected to comport themselves with some civility.

He recalled one child who wouldn’t settle down, and he threatened to tape the child’s mouth. The child told him to go ahead and try.

“I went to my office, got some blue painter’s tape, came back and ripped a piece off,” he said. The kid piped down.

Now that is a teachable moment.

Seriously, When Do We Start with the Pitchforks and Torches?

Christ, what an asshole

Heard this morning on CBS: Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs (you remember them? We taxpayers bailed them out to the tune of $10 billion…) demonstrating a breathtaking level of arrogance and willful stupidity.

Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career.

What? The? Fuck? If a working career lasts 25 years, then I should have retired several years ago. And let’s not forget that full SS benefits don’t kick in until one is 67 – or that the average recipient of benefits collects for just over 16 years.

It’s really disgusting, these out-of-touch, multi-millionaire CEOs blaming the nation’s economic woes on retirees – most of whom worked for 45 years or longer. Never any mention of the home mortgage scam orchestrated by the big banks or the fact that the whole notion of “too big to fail” essentially guarantees that the insane financial risks these institutions take don’t actually expose them to any risk at all. If the investment doesn’t pay off and affects their bottom line sufficiently to endanger their existence – well, then, the government will step in to bail them out to ensure markets remain stable. In other words, the element of risk is no longer there – thus removing any incentive for these financial institutions to act with caution or even intelligence. They can’t lose.

Oh, also, Social Security is already well-funded and solvent for the next 20 years, so it’s not exactly crying to be “fixed.” Though if Mr. Blankfein is really concerned about its solvency, how about advocating for removal of the limit on income that is taxed for SS? Today, any income in excess of $110,000 is not assessed any SS taxes. Mr. Blankfein’s salary last year was $2 million (plus $3 million in bonus and $10 million in stock) – so only 5% of his salary was subject to SS taxes. And only 0.6% of his entire compensation. What a shocking coincidence…

And while I’m sure your blood is already boiling, just a final thought: Blankfein  bought his apartment on Central Park West for $26 million. He paid cash. I’m knitting his name into my sweater right now…

Romney and Ryan Explain Their Loss

Boo-fuckin’-hoo

Here’s what Mittens had to say regarding his recent drubbing in the Presidential election:

With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift. Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.

That Obama, he’s a tricky knave! I mean, of course all those sluts would vote for him after he gave them free contraceptives, so they could keep slutting it up like big slutty sluttersons! And stupid young people, falling for the shameless bribe of being permitted to have health care! Suckers.

And it had nothing to do with your insane right-wing agenda and that voters found you personally and politically objectionable. Or that you were out-organized. Or that you and your party give every impression of hating women, Latinos, blacks, immigrants, gays and pretty much anyone who isn’t (either literally or figuratively [I’m looking at you, Condoleezza Rice and Marco Rubio]) a rich old white guy. Nope, it was that slippery Obama, with his “gifts” to voters.

And then zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan had this to add:

[T]heir loss was a result of Mr. Obama’s strength in “urban areas,” an analysis that did not account for Mr. Obama’s victories in more rural states like Iowa and New Hampshire or the decrease in the number of votes for the president relative to 2008 in critical urban counties in Ohio.

What do you think he really means by “urban”? Do you think he’s referring to people who live in cities? I wonder – it’s a real puzzlement…

To be honest, it’s no surprise that these loathsome crybabies are incapable of even the merest hint of introspection, either as individuals or as the standard bearers of the out-of-touch and increasingly irrelevant Republican party. I think it is also further proof that neither Romney nor Ryan are remotely qualified to hold elected office – let alone to occupy the White House.  What a couple of grade-A douchebags/disgusting shit-birds.

from NYTimes

Cable Companies: Even Worse Than the Borg

I’ll say it again: cutting the cable cord was the best decision I’ve ever made. Not only do I save money, I watch less TV. And what I do watch is of superior quality – I’m halfway through Season 2 of Sherlock and it is excellent. Also really liking Prisoners of War, the Israeli show upon which Homeland is based.

Anyway, here’s Time-Warner Cable pissing off Patrick Stewart and William Shatner simultaneously. And trying to be “funny.” Seriously, TWC, if you’re going to crack wise, I recommend it not be to a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company who has also portrayed Jean-Luc Picard, Professor Charles Xavier, Gurney Halleck and the inner-voice for Susie Swanson. You will not come off well…

from FAIL blog

Why you gotta play me like that, Facebook?

Um, no, not so much…

And as for this? Oh for fuck’s sake! Just no. NO. N-O spells “no.” Absolutely not.

Oh, STFU, Ross.

Christ, what an asshole

In the ongoing competition to see which NYTimes columnist I can’t stand the most, the insufferable Ross Douthat once again grabs the lead from the always annoying David Brooks – though not by much.

In yesterday’s commentary, Douthat trotted out the Republican talking point, which compared Romney’s 47% comments to Obama’s “guns or religion” “gaffe” during the 2008 campaign. Frankly, the only thing the two commentaries have in common is that they were perceived as gaffes. But to portray them as similar in any way beyond that is intellectually dishonest. Douthat himself even seems to acknowledge this by linking to William Saletan’s excellent piece on Slate that points out the specific and glaring differences – namely, that Obama’s comments were part of a conversation in which he acknowledged not just the difficulty but also the necessity of appealing to blue collar, disaffected voters; Romney has simply written off half of the voting population as undeserving moochers – not to mention that his trope about them not paying taxes is a bald-faced lie, since he conveniently overlooks the payroll tax that all working people pay.

Even more enraging though is Douthat’s conclusion that “elite” Democrats AND Republicans hate the working classes, just for different reasons. According to him:

What does it say that rich Democrats can’t fathom why working class Americans might look askance at an elite that’s presided over a long slow social breakdown and often regards their fundamental religious convictions as obstacles to progress?

First of all, I don’t know what “long slow social breakdown” he’s referring to. If it includes things like higher divorce rates, increased infant mortality, teen pregnancies and the like, these are “red state” problems. That is, the states who claim to be most concerned about “social” issues and “family values” are the ones doing everything they can to prevent women from having access to family planning and birth control services; with the highest rates of divorce; who are willing to take to the streets in protest over the VERY IDEA that all people should have access to healthcare; who insist that “abstinence” is the only method of birth control that should be taught. So, it’s unclear to me how this “social breakdown” can be pinned on Democratic “elites.” (Also, nice use of the Republican-approved code-word “elite,” Ross…)

Or is he making a veiled comment about opposition to gay marriage? Or the teaching of creationism? Or climate change denial? Because these are but three of many, many examples I can point to where it’s a fact that the “fundamental religious convictions” are obstacles not only to progress, along with the practice of fact-based science, but to the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that are foundations of the American form of government. When there is a portion of the population that believes that their religious views trump the views of other religions or of the Constitution itself, then yes, they are demonstrably obstacles to progress in this country. Democrats don’t suggest that anyone shouldn’t follow the religion of their choice – all we ask is that the laws of this country remain secular. If you don’t support same-sex marriage, don’t get gay married! If you are opposed to abortion, don’t get one! But don’t use your religion to instruct the rest of us on how we can or cannot live our own lives within the boundaries of secular law in this country.

Of course, none of this is much of surprise from Douthat, given that his most recent book would steer us back to a Eisenhower-era of Christianity, when it was “a driver of assimilation and a guarantor of social peace, and its prophetic role, as a curb against our national excesses and a constant reminder of our national ideals.” To paraphrase my comments about that, “Oh brother.”

Oh, and just to be clear, I’m not giving David Brooks a pass either. I was actually somewhat impressed with his column, “Thurston Howell Romney”, if only for the title. And he goes on about how Romney’s remarks further drive home the fact that he is completely out of touch with the vast majority of the American population, portraying retirees, the poor, veterans and other members of the 47% as freeloading victims.

But Brooks can’t leave well enough alone and ends with this observation re. Romney: “Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater.”

Really? A man who is willing to say anything, to adopt any position, to pretend to be something he is not, all in service to getting himself elected to the presidency? That is not only unkind and indecent, it is craven, disgusting and un-American.

Wow. Really?

You know, I’m generally quite impressed with the predictive abilities of my phone’s keyboard. But this? I mean, come on! Shouldn’t my phone be well aware of the fact that my social life is not exactly a hive of activity? And that the only way I could contract an STI would be via a toilet seat or doorknob? Jeez…

My long pharmacy nightmare is over.

As of January 1st of this year, I could no longer get my prescriptions filled at Walgreens. This was thanks to a dispute over reimbursement between Walgreens and Express Scripts, the third-party company that manages Blue Cross’ prescription program. (I’m not even going to rail about the ridiculousness inherent in three for-profit companies having to be involved in simply filling my prescriptions… Ugh.)

Now, I didn’t have any particular love for Walgreens prior to this switch. Here in  SF, they are certainly convenient with tons of locations. And for the most part, the service is OK – the one near my apartment (and thus ghetto-adjacent) was not  my favorite thanks to the high proportion of crazies filling prescriptions. But the one near my office always had my prescriptions ready on time and the staff there is universally friendly and efficient.

This, of course, was before I was forced to switch to CVS – which I believe stands for “Completely Vile Service.” I say without hyperbole that the pharmacy at their location on Market St. provided the most consistently terrible service I have ever experienced in a retail environment. To wit:

There were always long, slow moving lines. This is annoying and exasperating under any circumstances – but was made all the more frustrating by the fact that, during one stint in line, I counted eight (EIGHT!) staff members behind the counter, only one of whom was actually waiting on customers. One was taking phone calls rather than assisting customers who’d already been waiting 15 or more minutes in line. Three were having a long and involved discussion about a bottle of pills they were all staring slack-jawed at. The remainder were busily shuffling about and studiously avoiding eye contact with customers.

My solution to the long lines? Arrive at the pharmacy as soon as they opened. This seemed like the perfect plan, since the CVS opened at 7AM and the pharmacy at 8AM. I could get there at 7:55 and be first in line when the pharmacy opened. AU CONTRAIRE! In the minimum of eight visits I mad to the pharmacy over the course of six months, not once (NOT ONCE!) was the pharmacy open at the 8AM. There’d typically be one or two staff members waiting to start their shift, but the pharmacy could not be opened until the manager arrived – which would be at anywhere from 8:05AM to 8:15AM.

And the absolute worst part of all? I spoke to the pharmacy manager on multiple occasions about opening on time. Her responses included the following:

  • “I have a really long commute.”
  • “The train was late.”
  • “It’s only five minutes after 8.”
  • “Well, you’re late to work anyhow.” (This in response to my advice that I typically start my workday at 8:00AM)
  • “I come all the way from Fremont.”
  • “I have a really long commute.”
  • “I have a really long commute.”

I remember telling her about my own experiences working in retail sales for over a decade and that we typically began our workday anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes before store hours, ensuring that we were prepared to wait on customers as soon as the doors opened for business. Her response? “Well, I have a really long commute.”

I did speak with someone at the CVS’ headquarters and even got a call back from a local district manager, apologizing for the ongoing problems and assuring me that there was a new pharmacy manager who would straighten things out. Three days later, I showed up at 8:00AM and found the pharmacy closed, per usual, with no staff in sight.

I should also add that during one visit, the store manager herself offered me a $20 credit on my next purchase in an effort to ameliorate the shitty service I’d received. She assured me that she would enter it to my account and it would be deducted from my next purchase. Unsurprisingly, this did not happen.

Anyway, it sure has made me realize how delightful Walgreens is. Looking forward to going back to the Spear St. location, where the staff still know not only my name, but the name of my cat (they fill his prescriptions, too.)

And as for CVS? I shall joyously never patronize them again.

I Feel Doody-bound to Write About This…

So, this is a thing. Cottonelle is asking viewers of this commercial to come up with clever euphemisms for the combination of wiping your ass with both TP and “flushable wipes.” Gross.

Now, obviously, I could visit their site and add my own suggestions for this process. But I’m pretty sure that any entries with appropriate words like “shit,” “poop” and “excrement” will be filtered (heh) – not to mention, I don’t want Cottonelle showing up on my list of “Likes” on Facebook. So, here’s what I’ve come up with so far, presented without the stifling censorship of the Kimberly-Clark corporation. Feel free to drop (heh) your own suggestions in the comments section.

  • Crusty Crack Crap Crammer Combo
  • Dingleberr-E-radicator
  • Excrementary, Dear Watson a.k.a. No Shit, Sherlock
  • Bunghole Boogie-Woogie
  • Smears Johnny!
  • 50 Shades of Brown
  • The Origin of Feces
  • The Hole Shebang
  • Diarrhea-nother Day
  • Searching for Klingons on Uranus
  • Better Than a Corn Cob
  • The Number Two-Step
  • Rock, Paper, Shitters
  • From Shart Minds Come Shart Products
  • The Doody Free Shop
  • Shit’s About to Get Real
  • The Karl Rove

Also, just while on the subject of Cottonelle: their TP is the most dingleberry-inducing product I have ever used and it is banned from both my home and my bottom.

How Charming!

Got a message from a fellow the other night via one of the several gay “social” apps I use. He’s in South Carolina, which isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker – I’ve met some very nice fellows who live far, far away from me. I’m always open to making new friends, including the online variety.

Now, before I get to the nut (heh) of this story, let me provide you with the full and unexpurgated extent of his online “About” description:

please be nice. its not very hard. if i say hello or pay you a compliment, the least you can do is say thanks. Jesus. treat people like they’re human beings.

A sentiment with which I agree! There’s no reason not to be polite just because the conversation occurs online. Granted, he does come across as a bit whiny. I mean, come on – we all know at this point what we’re getting ourselves into when we sign up. Despite the fact that there’s generally no need to be an a-hole to someone who says hello, it’s gonna happen. But I totally get what he’s saying!

So, keeping in mind this gentleman’s very explicit entreaty for civility (along with the fact that he is located nearly 3000 miles away from me, thus precluding any opportunity for something more booty-call-esque in nature – not, mind you, that I am interested in that type of encounter… Seriously, I’m not!), here is the full and unexpurgated extent of his introductory message to me:

u into cbt?

As tempting as it was to respond, “I adore Ceylon black tea!” or “Doesn’t everyone love cuddling big time?” I went with the straightforward “I’m fine, thanks! How are you?” And then immediate availed myself of the “block” function.