Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bugged by Microsoft

Inching toward the end of a long week full of two-minute tasks that each managed to consume an entire day, I’m beginning to think that like Batman to Robin, Murphy’s Law deserves its own sidekick corollary, Microsoft’s Law. Come to think of it, despite seniority, Microsoft’s Law seems to be the lead hero here. Sorry for the demotion Murphy, but you, of all people, must have seen it coming.

In addition to Microsoft, I am convinced that the following are all out to get me: Time Warner Cable, Hewlett Packard, Verizon and that gigantic Kool-aid mutant—part pitcher, part man—that year after year continues to bust through brick walls without so much as a tiny crack or micro chip. Very creepy: I can see where Jim Jones got his inspiration. Freakishly indestructible artificially-colored beverage containers aside, (he’s probably just meant to intimidate and devoid of any real substance), it is Microsoft who really does seem to be the ringleader of my endless plights. Conspiratorial paranoia ? Perhaps. But one thing is for sure, Microsoft bugs me.

One would think that my having married a computer scientist would have helped the situation; but in fact, it seems to get worse and worse. In the spirit of “know thy enemy” I’ve progressively been trying to learn more and more of the complicated Windows functions. Microsoft, however, has consistently been able to create new bugs faster than my learning curve. (And even if the Kool-Aid man were to defect to my side, I’m sure Microsoftball would still stay ahead of this pitcher’s curve as well).

How their conspiratorial plot is insidious! For years they have been impugning my credibility. Nine times out of ten I am forced to clamor for the cool-headed aid of my beloved computer geek to recover and restore my work. It’s absolutely true: a bitch in time saves nine but 8 ¾ of those times he does exactly the same thing I had been doing for hours on end; save that it works--seamlessly.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Why We Can't See the Bushes for the Trees

In his speech on Tuesday, President Bush asserted that despite the Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency does indeed have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, he does not intend to seek any further regulations beyond his proposal for more fuel-efficient cars. Critics of this stance are many, and Mr. Bush has certainly taken a lot of heat on global warming.

Despite the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community concerning the reality of climate change and the very serious threats it poses, it may nonetheless be judicious to entertain the possibility that on this matter, Bush’s critics, and even Supreme Court Justices, might nonetheless not be in the best position to judge. It is undeniable that, as President, Bush has access to information far beyond what any individual, organization or institution can ever know despite the fact that his ostensibly limited intelligence may often preclude his intelligent use of Intelligence.

It is not entirely unreasonable to believe that the notion that regulated commercial emission cuts would offer no more than a band-aid solution may in fact not be an entirely scabrous idea. As shocking as it may sound, particularly to those whose judgment is sound, the president may, in fact, actually have it right and know something that the scientists do not and cannot know. It is not often that President Bush is referred to as realistic. Still, with Gonzales soon to speak before Congress to defend the Department of Justice against allegations that eight US attorneys were allegedly fired for purely political reasons and the president himself having just two days ago insisted that attempts by Congress to link financial support for the war with timetables for withdrawal would undermine the troops, it is no doubt irrefutable that any attempt to limit hot air emissions at this time would in fact be hopelessly futile. Only Bush Administration officials may know the full extent to which, since 2001, not American industries but the White House itself has been the overwhelming source of toxic hot air released into our environment.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

April Fool's Play

Lucy Lots
Language Arts
2nd Period
April 1, 2007

Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran

[To tune of the Beach Boys, somewhere between 30,000 and 665,000 Iraqi lives depending on who you ask, 3250 American lives, and well over a trillion dollars that we know of. Music gradually fades as Ira and Brit take the stage]

IRA: Mommy, Brit went into my room without my permission!

BRIT: Did not!

IRA: Did too!

BRIT: Did not!

IRA: Did too!

[Georgina peers down the hall, witnessing a few seconds of the squabble. But she’s in the middle of getting ready to go out for a quiet stroll through Bagdad with the neighbor, Mr. McCain, and decides to ignore the problem for now. She loads the hunting rifle just in case for when Dick gets home.]

BRIT: Mom, Ira went into my room and took a bunch of my action figures!

IRA: Well, that’s because you came into my room without asking!

BRIT: Did not!

[Her countenance changes as she starts to get worried about her toys. She remembers one time when Ira hid mum’s favourite earrings for over a year and two months! Meanwhile Ira picks up a plastic figure and mimics it talking]

IRA: We love to snoop around Ira’s room. We’re always invading his privacy…If you’d just say you’re sorry, admit that you were wrong and that you were snooping around my room and promise not to do it again, I might just give them back, you know.

BRIT: [Making a huge effort to look strong and unaffected while holding back tears]
Well, I, I didn’t, I mean, I didn’t mean, I…

IRA: Allah, what a spoiled little pest you are! It’s absolutely unbelievable!

Brit: [Whimpering] But I, I…

IRA: You, you, you, exactly. You’re mom and dad’s favorite. You get everything. How come you get to have your own superdeluxe supersoaker, and Star War’s ship and bee bee gun and I don’t, huh? It’s not fair!

FIRST CHORUS: [Peeking through the window]
Yeah, yeah, yeah! [Their protests get progressively louder, from mumble to groan to full out screaming, so loud it’s becoming deafening. More and more neighbors hear the fight and run over to join Ira’s crowd.]

GEORGINA: [This is starting to tick her off, to push her buttons. She was so looking forward to her peaceful stroll, even maybe making some plans to go fly fishin’, and veggin’ out just a tiny bit more. She’s so close to the maximum conscious veg-out state. She can just feel it.]
Sweet Holy Jesus, blessed be thy name. Wha’d ya gotta do round here t’git a little peace and quiet? Now you tell me! [Peering upward] Seriously, Jesus, that wasn’t one of them rhentrical questions. [Peering back down the hall] Children, this is unacceptable behavior! [She’s heard enough. She closes her door. Dick will take care of this soon.]

SECOND CHORUS: [Brit’s friends peeking in through another window]
Ira is so ridiculous, so unreasonable, making such a big deal out of everything! Yeah, yeah, yeah! [They jump into Georgina's nephew's Hummer hoping to bring back some others to witness the spectacle.]

[Dick comes home. Hears the squabbling and reaches for the rifle with a sly, stifled grin. He fires a round and toys start flying everywhere, breaking into pieces and making a terrible mess. Little action figure limbs fly across the room, Playdough splatters against the walls. Dick mumbles to himself.]
Ah, who cares? Mrs. Rumsfeld will take care of it tomorrow. No, wait, she was fired. Who is the new cleaning lady again? No matter, Mr. Snow will cover up the whole thing anyway. No, wait. Didn’t he have to take sick leave or something? What is it that he’s got again? Anthrax? Typhoid Fever? Lou Gehrig’s Disease? Carpel Tunnel? Oh who cares! You can always count on Rover to take care of these things anyway.
[He looks affectionately at his beloved pit bull and fires another round. But this time a stray bullet hits the propane tank that fuels their swimming pool. The explosion wipes out not only their house but the entire neighborhood.]

[Beach Boys music, begins loud, then gradually fades out] Yes we caaan, oh yes we caaan! We'll have 'em rockin' and a'rollin' rockin' and a'reelin' bomb Iran, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!


LUCY: [Lucy hands her mother the play she has just written for her language arts homework assignment. Long Pause.]
Ahem! So what do you think?

MOM: Oh, yeah, it’s great, honey.

LUCY: But you were just holding it. You weren’t even actually reading it; you were totally focused on the TV the whole time, watching CNN.

MOM: Don’t be silly of course I was reading it. I wasn’t watching CNN.

LUCY: Oh yeah? Then tell me what it’s about?

MOM: They’re fighting over who invaded whose space, one of them takes some of the other’s action figures, fighting over who should apologize, how unfair it is that only one of them gets the big guns…It’s great, your teacher will love it.

LUCY: [Scrutinizing her mother’s face with skepticism]
If you really were reading it, then tell me how it ends.
MOM: [Blushing]
Um…Oh, my. Look at the time!

LUCY: See! I told you you were totally focused on CNN!

MOM: We’ll, I don’t want to be late to the party. They’re fundraising for Hillary you know, or Greenpeace. I forget which.

[Mom’s a bit distracted: more details are coming out about Anna Nicole Smith’s death and then there was that boy scout lost for several days in the woods and then finally found, a heart wrenching affair for any mother, and that astronaut diaper lady, it was just too much! Forgetting that it’s nighttime and pitch black outside, she puts on her huge designer sunglasses and neglecting to turn off the TV and the lights, exits the house, firmly shutting the door behind her.]


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Travelling in Texsucks

Ah, the airport life, so simple and plane. This morning I found myself here yet again, this time on my way to a conference in my favorite state, Texas (yee-haw!). Yes, Texsucks, home of that son of a Bush we Americans are forced to call our president, the sins of that Bush far too lengthy to enumerate. This is especially the case since I have been betrayed by my laptop battery and am scratching this down by hand. If ever I manage to make out this scribbly scram I will type it in later. This is bound to be a very short post.

A few moments ago on the plane the captain decided to narrate for a bit: “Good morning, welcome aboard, etc. etc. We just passed Lancaster Pennsylvania. To the right you’ll see blah, blah, blah and to the left etceterblah, etceterblah.” Funny how “near Lancaster Pennsylvania” looks exactly like any other town that is completely hidden under a thick layer of clouds to both the right and the left. Maybe he pulled one over on us. Perhaps we were really near Pittsburg and this could be a bit straight out of classic cockpittsburg comedy.

Forced by ol’ captain guy chattin’ to give up on reading over my conference documents, I shall report to you in simulpest: “Good news, folks, because lately the wind patterns have been different than usual, we will arrive on time despite our late departure.”

I will no doubt fondly remember this kind meteorological service rendered to me some day in the perhaps-not-so-distant future when my home is underwater and I am swimming to the Adirondacks. But the media will of course be pessimistically biased, as is currently the case with the war in Iraq and will likely soon be the case with the war in Iran as well. Just as now in their deplorably sensationalist zeal the media only report the bad news (the daily bombings and raging murderous sectarian violence) and never speak of any of the good news (like the Administration’s prediction that with no electricity to power televisions and the mortal danger of walking the streets and markets, large homebound sectors of the population will largely turn to books such that we will soon witness soaring literacy rates) they will no doubt focus on the aquatic exodus of drowning New Yorkers without even mentioning all of the delayed flights that had been able to reach their destinations on time thanks to the very same alterations in weather patterns and that have allowed me to so conveniently travel around Texsucks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

EPA Cries "hear, hear!" at Bush Administration

Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists signed a petition against the recent decision to send Ken Knot Perceval, a 30-year marine biologist at the agency, to represent the United States at an upcoming international environmental studies colloquium. The petition was anonymously signed by outraged members of the scientific community using randomly-generated numerical signatures. Though top EPA administrators insist that no political pressure was responsible for their decision to designate Perceval as their representative, signatures of such illustrious environmentalists as 63085, 39745, and 41759, whose work has been widely recognized for having saved hundreds of thousands of acres of rain forest in 1994, having directed the public’s attention to such problems as dangerously concentrated levels of mercury in fish in 1996 and the menacing effects of melting polar ice caps in 1998 respectively, strongly suggest otherwise.

18564, who has been researching the effects of increasing levels of dandelion growth in our national parks since funding for his urban air quality research was cut off in 2001 calls this last Friday’s appointment of Perceval “just the latest example of the Bush Administration’s seemingly endless number of attempts to muzzle scientists in order to protect large corporations from being forced to comply with health and safety regulations.” The White House responded that this was blatantly untrue, pointing to another gag order released just yesterday and the all-but-complete erosion of all health and safety regulations making it almost impossible for corporations to even potentially consider their violation. “Are we supposed to take seriously the word of ‘scientists’ who are incapable of getting even the simplest facts straight?” opined a Bush Administration spokesman.

Ken Knot Perceval’s name first made headlines in 1966 when a court ruling in his favor forced the EPA to rescind their rejection of his job candidacy following a discrimination suit. Perceval’s attorney eloquently and effectively argued that being a deaf-mute would not prevent his client, who held a PhD in marine biology, from making significant contributions to the agency’s environmental research. Administration officials point to his long and impressive list of publications in peer-reviewed journals and his 30-year tenure of his research lab position at the EPA as evidence that the decision to designate him as official spokesman to attend the international environmental colloquium was entirely merit-based. They accused the numerical petition signers of gross disrespect for the authority of the judicial system that had enforced Perceval’s engagement at the EPA over 30 years ago, stating that the choice to sign the petition numerically was proof that they themselves knew that their protest was discriminatory and unjust.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Parenting Trap

Yesterday I logged onto Amazon to place a book order. I wanted to read the Marquis de Sade, not because of any strange sexual perversions on my part or anything like that, nor for the sake of learning how to possibly develop some strange sexual perversions, but rather for cultural reasons. I know that you’re probably thinking, “yeah, in the same way that I buy Playboy for the articles,” but I swear (and I mean this as an explication, not as an expletive) that it’s true. That torture has been sanctioned by my government, that it has even been a subject for debate in the United States and that it has not provoked more of a public outcry has made me cry a little inside and given me Sade thoughts. I simply wondered if I might learn something about the social psychology of torture from the master, the Marquis.

When I logged onto Amazon, before even having entered any information whatsoever about what I had intended to order, it welcomed me by my name and proffered a list of product recommendations. The marketing selections were right on the money as it is their purpose to be; until, that is, I scrolled down. There at the bottom of the screen I found a list of books on parenting. On parenting!? How did Amazon know that I was a bad mom? I had never purchased a book on parenting before (which might be part of the problem, but still). I reflected back to my last purchase—Freud. Surely that wasn’t enough to tip them off was it?

Come on! I only give my kids ice cream for breakfast once, occasionally twice, a week—a good source of dairy protein. I only “let” them play before doing their homework so that I can skim their textbooks and be ready to help them with it. Surely even Mrs. Gruber never really expected me to be able to recall my times table over two decades later! Even then the ubiquitous calculator had long since vanquished the abacus. Hell, even my grandmother had one. And I challenge any and all sentient adults to spell “sentient” without the aid of their automatic spelling corrector. I had named my son Egburtus not because I hated him but because I dearly loved my late grandfather, Egburtus.

I could go on and on with such excuses but I really shouldn’t have to. I’ve always been disturbed by data mining precisely because I feel this data is mine.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Cheney's Blood Clout

After last week’s failed attempt to assassinate Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan, Taliban in resurgents decided to try a new tactic. Working from the inside, they built a bloody terrorist cluster in Cheney’s leg—not just one cell, but a whole group of cells. Fortunately, they were caught in time by US counterintelligence.

Now that the shameful conditions at Walter Reed VA hospital have captured the attention of major news media, Americans are finally becoming aware that the death toll is only a small fraction of the human cost of war when the (physically and psychologically) wounded are also taken into account. What’s more, Democrats and other liberal, left-wing nut jobs insist that by all accounts, the Administration is falsifying its counts—to take but one of their traitorous examples, if a soldier who sustains injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan dies en route to or at a medical facility in another location he or she is not counted in the Iraq/Afghanistan death toll.

An anonymous White House source (“Scooter” Libby) reveals that war amputees whose limbs are thought to be infiltrated by terrorist cells, like the ones found in Cheney’s leg, are counted by the Administration as “victories,” as terrorists caught and captured, rather than as casualties, and that counting them twice would be dishonest. When reporters tried to question the Vice President on this matter, he adamantly refused to respond, calling the question "ill-leg-i(n)timate."

Tony Snow defended the Vice President’s decision, explaining that the state of Cheney’s leg is part of an ongoing investigation and that the Administration would simply not aid the enemy by providing any tactical information about which of its cells had been caught. When reporters tried to contact Cheney’s leg directly, they were told to talk to the hand.