This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Overheard today:

"If you say Lance Henrickson, I'm going to slap you."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Why Aren't You Panicking?

(By the time you see the Red Flag, it's already too late. Just try and go limp.)
It looks like we here in Dallas are in store for another 70 degree day with high winds. I like how weather people always can think of something to panic about, even when it's nice. Here we are, another day that's 70's and sunny, and all these people can talk about it fire danger. "Red Flag Warnings -- Woop Woop! You know, we had some fires not too long ago that caused a lot of damage. What were they caused by, you ask? An errant cigarette? Sombody firing guns on the prairie? No, they were caused by teenagers who saw that there was a Red Flag Warning on the news and thought it would be a good idea to play a prank and start some fires. Ahh...the media.

I wonder: If there's some sort of danger out there and local news hasn't told us about it even though they totally knew, could we file a class action lawsuit against them for not telling us? Cuz that would explain the state of investigative reporting today. "Coming up next: Eating a tub of lard might be bad for you." It's ridiculous. Why do we put up with it? Is there anyone out there that doesn't know about the dangers of online predators or identity thieves or carbon monoxide leaks yet?

In other words: Just because one person gets hit by a blimp, that does not mean that blimps have some sort of "hidden danger" on which we need to waste 3 minutes of news time. Also, stop reporting things as news that are just common sense. That's what we have warning labels for.

It is very dry and yellow from lack of rain here. I guess we're in a drought, but what it feels like is an extended vacation in the middle of January. It is so nice out I could scream. But do you know what I'm going to do? Fear f___ing fires, that's what.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Republicans: For Truth, Honor, and Kicking the Poor Because They Stink

(When Senator Sessions looks in the mirror, he's reminded who his master is.)

Those of you who've been around me know that I am generally pretty conservative politically. I'm more of a pragmatist than an idealogue, though -- I simply believe that most government programs are a waste of money, and that people should be able to keep more of what they've earned. I also don't expect the government to bail me out, and I really don't understand why my parents, who have lived a comfortable but non-wasteful life within their means, should be expected to bail out other seniors who blew all their money on gambling and hats. I vote Republican mainly for trust issues: I can't trust the Democrats to keep from creating another government program that leeches money from everyone I hold dear. Of course, I can't really trust the Republicans either, but at least my taxes are lower.

I'm not, however, one of those people who hates the poor and thinks they're "dirty" or "below me." I don't even think of them as "the poor." I think of them as "us." But still, I am a conservative. When you have very little money to start with, lower taxes mean a lot.

So I find my gut reaction to this story in the Washington Post is causing me a lot of cognitive dissonance, particularly this paragraph that quotes Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions:
The pre-bankruptcy credit-counseling requirement was initiated by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) during the 10-year battle to enact a new law. He said in a recent interview that it was "disappointing" to learn that so few consumers have signed up for a debt-management plan. He said he intends to monitor the law's progress and was "not prepared to give up on this."
Ooo. To paraphrase Starsky or Hutch, "Are you tough-talking a dead body, Senator?" Senator Sessions is going to make sure those poor people pay their debts like good Americans, even when their jobs have moved to China. Senator Sessions "isn't prepared to give up" until the credit card companies get every single penny they deserve. You'd do it for your kid.

Now, I sure what happened here is this: somebody hit the Senator with statistics that only 4.5% of people who go into credit counseling under the new law end up repaying their debts as opposed to going into bankruptcy. I'm also sure whoever told the Senator these statistics failed to mention that the reason that the number is so low is that the vast majority of people are in such bad financial shape when they get to counseling that their only alternative is debt protection. The Washington Post story explains this, then proceeds to make Mr. Sessions look like an evil ogre who wants force destitute grannies into jail so that Big Credit can get a little more money. I understand the way those media clowns work. The quote STILL ticked me off.

The bottom line is that Mr. Sessions' default state of mind is to appease the credit card companies, so when he hears that only 4.5% of people who go into credit counseling come out with a payment plan, he automatically thinks "WWACCCES," or What Would A Credit Card Company Executive Say. I think he probably has a WWACCCES bracelet, too. In his mind, most people who declare bankruptcy are evil charlatans who just want to rip off his friends, the rich who hold the money. It never occurred to him that most people who declare bankruptcy actually need it to survive.

Yes, last year 1 in 30 USA households declared, which seems like a lot, and which theoretically means that in 30 years we will have all been bankrupt. But why aren't we concentrating on the policy and behaviors that make people overspend in the first place? Why aren't we concerned with all the people who have lost their jobs in the new economy? Why aren't we concerned with Americans' unsatiable need to have the newest and coolest things right now? Why do we think that people out there actually have money, when they're buying all this stuff on credit?

Why is a US Senator asking himself WWACCCES, when he should be asking himself WWTPOAWMTD?

(Oh, that's What Would The People Of Alabama Want Me To Do?)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dipping into the Mailbag

(ok, so that's where Uganda is...anyone know of any cheap flights to Africa, or how I can sneak a machete' on a plane?)

Because things are pretty slow in the world, I think it's about time I looked at the mail that's accumulated in my massive mailbag over the past year-and-a-half.
Ok, looking at the mail, I can see there are several issues I need to cover here.

Dear Blog-Person,
Are you a conservative, like me? Are you a liberal, like them? I have a hard time understanding some of the words you use. They seem communistic. I need to put you in a ready-made box so I can worship you or dismiss you. So which is it?
Real American, Boot in Yer A__, MT

Dear Real American,
You'll never put me in your "box," man. The world out there is so much bigger than conservative or liberal. If you'd quit playing with your Toby Keith action figure for five seconds, you would know that. The fact is, I'm mainly on your side, but I like mocking conservatives, too. It's fun. Don't think of life as an "us vs. them" proposition, unless you mean "right and Pauly Shore."

Dear Non-paperback Writer:
Why do I have to register with Blogger just to comment on your blog? Isn't that kind of lame? And why do I have to type in that bogus word-verification? Are you afraid of something? My mommy says I have to go to beddy-poo now, so good-bye.
Fancy Dress Smith, The Internet

Dear Spammer,
You drove me to word verification, you lace-wearing beard-face! And you no longer have to register with blogger to comment, because of massive complaints. I expected a flood of anonymous comments to start when I allowed them, but so far have gotten none, and even my non-anonymous comments seem to be dropping off. Maybe I should work in some actual content on this thing, eh? Never write me again.

Dear Bucks Piece-of-Crap,
Hey, I noticed you're not so loud about the Bucks now that they're sucking. Andrew Bogut looks like a cheese danish out there -- all inert and when you step on him, filling gets on your shoe. Aren't you glad you signed Michael Redd to that huge contract? How about that Bobby Simmons? Is Joe Smith even still on the team? Will you guys ever learn to play D? Tee Hee.
L. James, Cleveland, OH, USA

Dear Mr. James,
You know, it's not like they totally suck now -- they're still 19-16, above .500, and after some injuries. I'm beginning to think they will never learn to play defense, and it looks like Porter wasn't the only Terry to fail in that regard. I personally think the problem is the coaching, because the team hasn't really formed an identity yet (besides "team that wins all the close games"), and they haven't figured out that Bogut needs to be in the game during the 4th quarter, when he's good. Also, like I said, they really don't play defense. It's nice that they believe they can come back all the time, but bad that they just let people get ahead of them in the first place. Michael Redd will be fine, and the Bucks will be fine. They've got too much talent to fall back into mediocrity again.

And I'm going to see them in person lose to the Mavericks tonight, so I'll be able to say more about this tomorrow. That is, if I don't get beat up for rooting too hard against the home team.

Oh, and Lebron? You ain't beatin' Detroit this year anyway, so shut up.

Dear Stinky Cheese-Man
On a related note to what Lebron just wrote, what of the Packers this year? Are they"back" yet? Favre throws interceptions, takes Vicodin, and spells his name funny.
* Pekari, Out East Somewhere

Dear concerned football fan,
Your mom. The Packers were due for a bad year, since they have by far the best record of the salary cap era. But I am concerned about their new hire at head coach -- anytime Joe Horn says you're good, that's a problem. I'm certain we won't return to the wasteland of the 70's and 80's, however. It's about time the salary cap worked in the Packers' favor, don't you think.
Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Oh, and Favre beat Vicodin addiction and won a Super Bowl, all in the same year. Those are two things you've never done. Your mom.

Dear Little Brother,
You just used the phrase "Your mom" twice in one paragraph, which triggered our fancy-shmancy "Echelon"-style anti-terrorism program. We have now sent several agents to clandestinely watch you, as the Patriot Act practically commands. No longer shall we muck about with terrorists, er, potential terrorists. Now, if you type in a word like, "Yemen" or "Bong" or "I need some untraceable cell phones with which to make a dirty bomb," we will make you disappear. Have a nice day.
Name Withheld, Langley, VA

Dear local CIA Operative,
Boy, you guys are fast. I just typed that a few seconds ago. Thank you for keeping the country safe. I hope that you find your surveillance of me to be richly rewarding in every way. Terrorism is no laughing matter, and I wish to put a boot in its a__. Will I get flagged for saying a__? Whatever happened to our freedom, anyway? I suppose as long as the government can be trusted to make the right decisions regarding privacy, this is ok.
Yeah, this is probably a problem...

Dear Murderous Neocon,
So wait, let me get this straight -- you eat meat? Meat is genocide. You make me sick, and you don't deserve to live anymore. I suppose you shoot guns and give the homeless smallpox-infested blankets, too. I also suppose you live in a red state and shop at Wal-Mart, which makes Jesus cry. I also suppose you watch violent movies and wear clothes. I also suppose you expect your wife to shave and cook and clean and stop smoking pot. I also suppose you're Pro-life and drive an SUV. I also suppose...(ed. note: It goes on and on like this.)
Tolerance McGee, Swingin' New York

Dear Tolerance,
You're right. "Meat" is the same as exterminating an entire race of people. But I'm not giving up meat, so it looks like I start in Uganda and work my way west, eating plenty of steaks along the way. Hey, don't look at me -- you suggested it. I'm just being "tolerant" of your beliefs (since "tolerance" these days has come to mean "full acceptance or else").

I'm so sorry. This insane mail drove me to it, though. I'd better stop now before I implicate myself, moreso.