Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

27 January 2009

This Sort of Thing Must Be Stopped!

I know you'd hardly expect me to complain about political correctness run amok. But the East Sussex council of Lewes has gone too far:
Several months ago, Lewes District Council in East Sussex tried to address the problem of inadvertent place-name titillation by saying that “street names which could give offense” would no longer be allowed on new roads.

“Avoid aesthetically unsuitable names,” like Gaswork Road, the council decreed. Also, avoid “names capable of deliberate misinterpretation,” like Hoare Road, Typple Avenue, Quare Street and Corfe Close.

(What is wrong with Corfe Close, you might ask? The guidelines mention the hypothetical residents of No. 4, with their unfortunate hypothetical address, “4 Corfe Close.” To find the naughty meaning, you have to repeat the first two words rapidly many times, preferably in the presence of your fifth-grade classmates.)
All free speech proponents should speak up to defend the right of Britons to name places such as "Butt Hole Road".

Canadians should beware: It is not long ago that someone suggested the scenic and thriving towns of Dildo, Newfoundland and Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia, should vanish from Canadian maps.

Aussies also must be on their guard against this sort of thing. I used to have a picture of a friend, a black friend, standing by a sign on Fraser Island that read: "Black Butt Forest". Need I draw you a picture? The original has been lost, alas, to posterity.

Town councils should be prevented from preventing this sort of harmless fun.

"I do have a cause though. It is obscenity.
--I'm for it."
--Tom Lehrer

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Is That the Wind of Change I Hear?

In an earlier post I expressed a wish that Mr. Obama should be more statesmanlike that George W. Bush.

Already he's outstripping Dubya. Who can imagine the late unlamented Decider saying stuff like this?:
In a transcript published on Al Arabiya’s English language Web site, Mr. Obama said he believed “the most important thing is for the United States to get engaged right away” and that he had told his envoy to “start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating.”

“Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what’s best for them. They’re going to have to make some decisions,” Mr. Obama said. “But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that, instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table.
The article's in the New York Times.

Now I know that's just an interview, and like everything else, it awaits to see a genuine effort on the Israel/Palestine front.

But those words wouldn't fit in Bush II's mouth, nor those ideas in what passed for his mind.

God, what a breath of fresh air.

...

Not much going on in the ol' Metrolife right now. I've been recovering from a lousy cold (spent much of yesterday in bed) and trying to commit to memory the lines for the next play. Also making progress on the house, one scruffy inch at a time.

What's that? Where have I submitted my writing? What a terrific question! I'm glad you asked that question.

Next question, please ...

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23 January 2009

Further Thoughts on Unemployment

It is truly amazing how much work I'll do to avoid doing work.

Theoretically I'm supposed to be filing stories off to various magazines--because there's a dreadful dearth of writing work in this town. In fact, aside from the job I moved here to get there doesn't seem to be any.

Mme gave me permission not to worry about anything in particular for the first week. But I do feel some obligation to both submit work and take care of the house. So the house is getting cleaned within inches of its life. Because I seem willing to go to any lengths to avoid sitting down and polishing my work and then submitting it.

I have been dogged all my life by a fear of completion. No kidding. It's not pathalogical, but it does rather explain why after some fifteen years my Nash Metropolitan is still in a state of disassembly. Fortunately, the house is so far from perfection that I won't have to face my fears for quite a while.

Which is why I'm writing this post. I hereby declare before my Avid Fans (all five or so of them) that today I will make an effort to send a story to a publication, any story, any publication.

Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta go polish my sink. And no, that's not a metaphor for anything. It's a Flylady baby step.

It could be worse. I could be sitting on my ass in track pants watching soaps and eating "bon-bons". Sitting in one's track pants playing Pokerstars clearly is a different matter ...

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20 January 2009

On Birth

Which seems to happen to everybody sooner or later.

Amanda of A Bit Part in Your Life is having a baby. Real soon, apparently. And she's a touch nervous:
I get it, everyone that has a child had to get that child out of them--but it's only now that I'm really starting to get what that means. I'm going to have to do this. And soon. I can't put it off for three years like my wisdom-teeth extractions.
As a male, I feel that to venture comment on this it to risk defenestration. So let me instead write about a person who was a significant figure in the years of my young adulthood. I have taken the rare step of using the true names of the principles involved, as I have lost touch with them and wouldn't mind knowing where they're at these days, if indeed they're still alive.


Her name was Mama Morel, or as near as dammit. She was married to an Air Force sargeant who I believe was a refrigeration tech. She had a young son, Kenny, and a middle daughter whose name presently escapes me.

Her eldest daughter was "Bernie". Bernie joined the Forces a year or two after I did, which was how I came to meet her mother.

(I inject here a note of satisfying self-flattery when I say that my then-best-buddy Dave cornered me that night in the mess and asked me point-blank to leave her alone because he was mad for her. Already I was cultivating a reputation that would mystify the hell out of me for decades.)

Mama's family originated from some hick hill town in Appalachian Ontario so far back in the holler that "the hoot owls trod the hens." And the uncles trod the nieces and nephews, the daddies trod the daughters and sons, and ... well you get the grisly picture.

From such humble origins Mama naturally turned up pregnant at 15. Her mother waved the Bible at her and told her she'd suffer the torments of Hell for her sins, or summat like that.

So at 15, scared and alone, Mama found herself in hospital having her first labour pains. She was, I think, determined that her baby should at least be born in a hospital.

As the pains laid on, Mama shrieked and caterwauled, fearing that she herself might part and rip in two, disgorging an untidy heap of intestines and offal onto the tile floors. Having no information other than her mother's curses and gloating, she was sure, she felt, to die in agony for her "crime."

Just then the woman in the bed next to her pulled back the curtain between the beds and glared at her.

"Do you mind trying to keep it down?" she said fiercely.
"But, ... I'm having a baby!" the terrified girl shrieked.
"Yeah. So am I!" replied the intruder "Quit advertising or the rest of them will be wanting one too!"

"And the pain went away," Mama, now roughly three hundred pounds and in her mid-forties, told me around the smoke-hazed, coffee-ringed table in her trailer, "And I never had any trouble giving birth since."

This is just one little story. It utterly fails to encompass what Mama meant to me. I have taken liberties with the specific quotes--What did you expect? The story was told to me some twenty years ago. But Mama was a queen and her life and experience are worth passing on, I feel.

I hope she's still out there. But I doubt it. She was a big woman who smoked a lot and had a rough history. But part of her is in me. I owe her a lot. And I hope I do her memory justice.

One way I try to do that is by passing this story on to nervous mothers-to-be. I don't know if it does them any good, but a person is alive as long as their name is spoken.

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A New President, a New Era?

I think the award for "Remark Least Appropriate in Scope" goes to the anonymous commentator I heard this morning who said: "Americans have been waiting for this moment for two months."

No sir. The world has been awaiting this moment for eight years.

I have referred to the Bush years as the Kidney Stone Presidency. That stone plinks off the rim of history today and will hopefully be swiftly flushed.

If I were granted one wish it is that Obama will truly be everything Dubya wasn't: Statesmanlike, generous of spirit, and consensus-seeking for starters.

(If I were granted two wishes I would wish that every member of the Bush junta would be knocked unconscious leaving the White House, rolled up in carpets, and extraordinarily rendered to Gitmo, where they could provide historical object lessons to high school classes. But the sewer of history is, I suppose, as close to justice as we're likely to see.)

Goodbye Dubya. The world mourns you.

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15 January 2009

A Thought on Unemployment

So here I am lounging about in my pyjamas, sipping orange juice and reading the news. I mean, there's really no difference between me and Hugh Hefner at this point, save for about fifty years, $80 million, and about a hundred nude ladies running around my house.

Applications from nude ladies will be gratefully considered.

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14 January 2009

Uh, Well, Fuck.

The recession just tagged me. I have joined the ranks of the unemployed.

Worse yet, it happened by phone. Not worse for me, worse for my (now-ex-) boss. She's a personal friend, and when I assured her that we'd still be friends she burst into tears on speakerphone.

Ironically, she was on speakerphone because I'd arisen late and was slow getting in. So I was strangely almost relieved--I feel horribly guilty goofing off. But not no more, I guess.

I'm still processing things. First things first--I'm taking the rest of the week off. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that Mme is earning decent coin, and thank His Noodliness twice for a social safety net.

So we're not ecstatic, no we aren't O Avid Fans. But we're not dead, dying, nor even severely injured. I have a scratchy throat and a slight sniffle, but otherwise I feel fine.

Of course, my termination is effective immediately. They won't even let me back into the building. Not sure I feel good about the innate suggestion that I might be inclined to go postal.

But in fact if anything I'm inclined to go oppositely.

Still absorbing it all. We'll have to see what happens, I guess.

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13 January 2009

LOL O' the Day #512

Comes to you today from RationalWiki, where I started out searching for "genetic drift" and wound up following the trail of a goat.

On the "Goat" page was the question "Were you looking for sex or Goatse?

Now I've seen Goatse (although friggin' jaysus I wish I 'adn't) and I suggest strongly to all avid fans that you restrict yourself to the Wikipedia article if you don't want your innocence blistered, but I wondered what RW could possibly have to say on the subject. Then the London Olympic Goatse logo caught my eye and I was forced to read the article.

The LOL was produced at the very end:
See also
* Andy Schlafly


For those who don't want to wade through the article, Schlafly is the creator of the ever-truthy Conservapedia. Which values nothing more than the facts but conservative truthiness.

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12 January 2009

Did You Know You're Loathesome? Here's Why

Via Pharyngula

The Buffalo Beast's annual list of the 50 Most Loathesome People has been published. And guess who made the list?

Update: Turns out Metro managed an honourable mention for failing to provide the proper link. all fixed. Thanks are due to silverstar for pointing that out.

That's right: At number 43, it's YOU.
Charges: You think it’s your patriotic duty to spend money you don’t have on crap you don’t need. You think Hillary lost because of sexism, when it’s actually because she’s just a bad liar. You think Iraq is better off now than before we invaded, and don’t understand why they’re so ungrateful. You think Tim Russert was a great journalist. You’re hopping mad about an auto industry bailout that cost a squirt of piss compared to a Wall Street heist of galactic dimensions, due to a housing crash you somehow have blamed on minorities. It took you six years to figure out what a tool Bush is, but you think Obama will make it all better. You deem it hunky dory that we conduct national policy debates via 8-second clips from “The View.” You think God zapped humans into existence a few thousand years ago, although your appendix and wisdom teeth disagree. You like watching vicious assholes insult each other on TV. You support gun rights, because firing one gives you a chubby. You cuddle falsehoods and resent enlightenment. You think the fact that 43% of whites could stomach voting for an incredibly charismatic and eloquent light-skinned black guy who was raised by white people means racism is over. You think progressive taxation is socialism. 1 in 100 of you are in jail, and you think it should be more. You are shallow, inconsiderate, afraid, brand-conscious, sedentary, and totally self-obsessed. You are American.

Exhibit A: You’re more upset by Miley Cyrus’s glamour shots than the fact that you are a grown adult who is upset about Miley Cyrus.

Sentence: Invaded and occupied by Canada; all military units busy overseas without enough fuel to get back.
Well while I disagree with applying this to more than the McCain/Palin voting bloc of the population, I think the sentence presents an elegant solution.

Wait a second though. If the sentence is carried out, Americans would be overwhelmed by nombre quarante:
40. Free Credit Report.com guy

Charges: OK, he’s actually French-Canadian, but he invades America’s headspace every day. It’s bad enough that we have to see this albino smurf lip-sync some ad man’s grating jingles of financial woe fifty times a day. It’s bad enough that these ditties, as calculatedly infectious as bio-weapons, bounce around our skulls like a .22 caliber bullet. But the kicker is that this culture parasite and his “band” are hawking a scam. That’s right; freecreditreport.com isn’t free—in fact, it’s 15 bucks a month after the week-long “trial period.”

Exhibit A: There is a website where you can get a free credit report: It’s called annualcreditreport.com, and it was created in compliance with an act of Congress by the three big credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Then Experian set up freecreditreport.com, and their suicide-encouraging commercials, to cultivate and benefit from public confusion.

Sentence: Powering Ween’s tour bus with a stationary bicycle.
Go read the list. It's a swipe at demagogues left and right, and those others who are too self-important to see past their own egos.

Consider me The Prisoner. I will not tell you who Number One is. However, perhaps you'd like a clue?
If you want to know why the rest of the world is scared of Americans, consider the fact that after two terms of disastrous rule by a small-minded ignoramus, 46% of us apparently thought the problem was that he wasn’t quite stupid enough.
The conclusion is left as an exercise for the reader.

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09 January 2009

Nothing to Say, Really

Actually, I have lots.

Stephen Harper's turning my country into a disaster, Michael Ignatieff's turning the Liberals into Conservative Lite, so it appears at first glance, and Israel is turning people into corpses with considerably more efficiency than their opponents, who don't have the advantage of having the UN wire them the coordinates for schools and hospitals (or in IDF-speak "legitimate targets.") .

But I've read some places that if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything.

My life's been going really well lately. So I suppose there's that. But the wider world seems to be sucking down the Jonestown Flavr-Aid by the pint.

It could be worse, I suppose. I could be a Republican. How delusional a vice-president do you have to have been for the past eight years in order to state "I have no idea," when somebody asks why nobody likes you?

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06 January 2009

Does Anyone Hear a Rattling Noise?

The Economist today has an interesting article on the front page claiming "Everybody Does It".

The "It" in this case is make foolish or embarrassing remarks via e-mail, social netwroking sites, or, gawdelpus, on blogs.

The Economist says that the approaching era of online politics is likely to herald a new sort of Bowdlerism, because as the sub-head states: "Everybody has a skeleton."
Only the very blandest, most media-savvy and controlled people, who have never uttered a controversial sentence in their lives, will be deemed fit to hold public office.
Or perhaps this is pessimistic?

Maybe the days of "Shock! Scandal!" will die out as we realize that human failings tend to be common among humans. Already, sex scandals are not what they used to be. Think not? Consider Rudy Giuliani. How many prior presidential candidates do you know of with admitted extramarital affairs? Of course, Eliot Spitzer had to resign for the same sort of act.

Perhaps, instead of irrational self-censorship we're slowly drifitng perforce into a new era of openness: Maybe clergymen and politicos will feel free to say "I'm queer, and I like being that way." Maybe matrons will be able to voice a preference for being spanked. Maybe two men or women who love each other will be accepted without question as homosexuality loses its shock value relative to the myriad other peculiar sexual preferences of human beings which will slowly become more and more visible?

Maybe we'll finally be able to distinguish between a true "youthful indiscretion" and a major warning flag?

Because perhaps the real question here is about the lessons learned from the past? How do our words and actions of yesterday stack up against those of today?

After all, as a young adult I was racist and xenophobic. But I reasoned my way out of it. And I think that in my case, having my former thoughts on this blog might be a good reminder.

However, if in the new era the past might be forgiveable, or at least understandable, what if the indiscreet person shows no remorse, or no change? What if they continue to claim personal privilege beyond reason? What if they refuse to acknowledge the sordid facts of their histories? Well, I'd say it might not be that bad a deal for anyone. After all, Mel Gibson is still making movies. And Britney has another album out. And Bush has yet to be impeached.

So why not open the floodgates? Acknowledge that our personal histories are bigger than a seven-second sound bite? Tell people that they can no longer vote based on whether they'd buy a used car from this photo and that from now on they need to do some homework? Admit that we are layered folks?

Censorship or frank, free, expression? Which way do you think we'll break? Not tomorrow but, say, twenty years from now?

Me, I think we'll go for the latter. It's so much easier to decide who to vote for if you know about his/her past and the lessons he/she drew from it.

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05 January 2009

And So It Goes (Repeat ad infinitum)

In the Middle East, a war is raging. It has all the features of many ideological wars in the Twentieth Century, though it's more overt than most.

One group is the democratically elected government of a small Mideastern nation continually battered by its implaceable enemies. These enemies believe that they were given the land by God, and that they must defend that land by force, driving the enemy away. That task is so sacred, so holy, that the deaths of noncombatant women and children are merely incidental to that holy purpose. They defend their depradations with scripture and political posturing, posing as the innocent victims of a bully who will not be satisfied until they are dead.

The other group is the democratically elected government of a small Mideastern nation continually battered by its implaceable enemies. These enemies believe that they were given the land by God, and that they must defend that land by force, driving the enemy away. That task is so sacred, so holy, that the deaths of noncombatant women and children are merely incidental to that holy purpose. They defend their depradations with scripture and political posturing, posing as the innocent victims of a bully who will not be satisfied until they are dead.

My sympathies are more with the Palestinian people in this, for a number of reasons:

A prominent Jewish friend and I once discussed the meaning of "an eye for an eye". She pointed out that prior to that writing, the penalty for loss of an eye might be the loss of a hand, a leg, one's farm. Israel clearly feels that one life for one life is somehow an unfair exchange. They've killed over five hundred people in response to the deaths of six.

But both sides bear some of the blame. Neither rushed to plead for renewal of the ceasefire that has held, shakily, for the past couple of years.

Both have such loose definitions of what a combatant is that Israel finds itself fully justified in targeting schools with kiloton bunker-buster bombs. And Hamas excuses its randomized rocket fire by pointing out that almost all Israeli citizens serve in the Israeli army, and are therfore legitimate targets for murder. Neither, in these assertions, is playing by the rules.

I believe there's a possibility of resolving the situation, but it won't be found while Israel continues to indiscriminately pound the $#17 out of civillians and their homes (or "continues to confine itself to legitimate targets," if you're with the PR arm of the IDF). It won't be found while Dick Cheney continues to claim moral responsibility for nothing at all. It won't be found while Hamas refuses to recognize the right of Israel to exist, and it also won't be found while Israel refuses to recognize Hamas as the democratically-elected government of its tiny neighbour.

There is potential for change. Most Hamas leaders aren't actually hardline terrorist types. They're politicians and power brokers. Many, if not most, would be happy to seek a long-term or even perhaps a permanent cease-fire if they saw a way to benefit from it. Right now, the way to appeal to the voters is to oppose Israel.

And of course, appeal to the voters serves both sides right now. Israel is holding elections soon, and none of the candidates wishes to look "soft on terror."

At the moment, all I can say is that Israel is winning the war on the ground, for one definition of winning. However, it seems likely to lose the PR war, and support. Particularly once the horrid Bush administration gets flushed into history.

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01 January 2009

Starting Another New Year

Not, however, just another new year, you'll notice. After all, every new year comes freighted with potential for greatness or madness, and I intend to get a little of both.

Raincoaster poisoned me last night, by the way. The punch she made obviously contained a powerful intoxicant, capable of rendering the unfortunate victim (me) incoherent and unconscious, though capable of playing a pretty mean guitar.

I think the poison was particularly strong in the last six glasses. It's late afternoon and the last of the shaking chills is rattling through my exhausted frame. It's a good thing I didn't get my act together sufficiently to book the 10 a.m. New Year's Day snowshoeing tour that Raincoaster was pumping for last week. Obviously part of the assasination attempt.

However, I got my revenge--there was no way she slept through me emptying my stomach of all of its contents this morning. As an unexpected bonus, my personal protein evacuation convinced Mme Metro that perhaps I hadn't been feigning being charmingly, silly-ly drunk last night.

Curbside quiche done with, I returned to bed and slept off the shudders, nausea, and headache. If one is supposed to start the new year as one intends to continue, I'd like to be shot now, please.

Mme has a thoughtful post up at her blog. She obviously isn't upset with me for the events of last night and this morning, as she says she intends to spend more time with me, some of it in tents and cars.

I'm thinking over what I want from the new year. I'll let you know, because I really need to lie down right now.

Happy 2009 to all Avid Fans (What are there, four of you nowadays?).