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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry and Happy and No Refunds Without a Receipt

Once again I’m relieved about just how easy it is to make it through the winter holidays here in Spain. You could almost go without realizing that they are upon you as most businesses don’t take any notice, none, no decorations, nothing.  About the only dose of Christmas I get is the music in the supermarket and other than that there is little else to annoy even a non-believer like me. I think most of this is due to the fact that franchise businesses play such a minor part in the lives of the Spanish.  I remember asking someone at a Starbucks in the USA about when they began their Christmas blitzkrieg. “November first, but that’s retail for you.” I thought we decided at Nuremberg that "everyone else is doing it" is no defense? I’ve not bought even a single gift this year and have barely made any attempt to acknowledge that the holiday season is here. Some would probably find this to be sad but for me it’s positively exhilarating not to be bombarded by the forces of marketing.

I’m not a Christian so there is nothing in the way of a religious meaning to the "season." If I were religious I think this time of year would annoy the living shit out of me or at least insult the living shit out of me.  

If the holiday spirit runs over you like a steamroller in the USA here in Spain it’s more like a speeding moped flashing by.  You could miss if you weren’t paying close attention. Just New Year’s to make it through now which is no problem at all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


"Pope Prays for Freedom in China and Peace in Syria” Does the Pope pray when the waiter at the Olive Garden brings him the check or does he take out his purse like the rest of us?

Historians now theorize that Hitler had originally set out to pen a children’s book and not a hate-filled and racist manifesto.  They think that maybe his innocent work was transformed because the A and the T on his typewriter were broken or that perhaps he was just a really shitty typist.

I’ve had a backache the past few days and I don’t know how I did it. Someone suggested that I may have slept on it wrong.  I wasn’t aware that there was a right or wrong way to do it.  It didn’t take me too many little league baseball games or kindergarten art classes to realize that I wasn’t exactly overburdened with talent.  I have shouldered my mediocrity and carried it with a certain dignity bordering on pride at times. We can’t all be star athletes or award-winning scientists.  It’s not like I even give a shit that I never caught a touchdown pass for my high school team or mastered the piano well enough to give a concert, but to think that I can’t even sleep right has come as a crushing blow.  I wonder what else I may be screwing up.

The Muslims may have invented the concept of zero but in Arabic they have no word for “scantily-clad.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Parent of the Year

I don’t understand the popularity of this article about yet another woman with a creepy kid who has probably spent his life in front of a TV or a video game or both. She proudly exclaims in the title that she is the mother of the diseased little bag of feces who murdered the children in Connecticut—or at least at one with her because she, too, has a mentally ill child.  Her little prick pulled a knife on her one day and then when he called her a stupid bitch she put her foot down by grounding him from electronics for the rest of the day (I assume by “electronics” she means disgustingly violent video games). The rest of the day? How about keeping him away from electronics until he’s 18? “We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings.” I’m no doctor and I have too much common sense to invent medical names that are complete bullshit but let me throw this out there: maybe the kid just has really, really shitty parents, parents who allow their children to waste away in front of an electronic screen for half of their lives. If I had a kid of my own I wouldn’t want them to be anywhere near this woman’s maladjusted animal.

From the author’s profile we learn that, “Liza Long is an author, musician, and erstwhile classicist. She is also a single mother of four bright, loved children, one of whom has special needs.”  By “special needs” I’m guessing they mean a padded cell. She gives a description of herself as well. “‘I'm a Luddite. I haven't had tv in years. But grateful to NBC news for sharing an important story.” Why are people always so proud of the fact that they don’t have a TV? It’s not like that automatically makes you interesting or well-read. Of course, she has a Twitter account and she wonders how anyone survived before Smartphones, as if these things are intellectually superior to TV. If she’s such an anti-television hippie why is it so traumatic when her son is threatened with the loss of “electronics” for part of a day? On her Twitter account she seems impressed that her car of eight year old children are discussing text applications. That would creep me the fuck out and I would immediately drive the kids to a park and make them play in the sunshine for an entire day without hand-held devices.  Call me old school but had my parents given me a partial-day ban from “electronics” it wouldn’t have fazed me one bit.

Adam Lanza's mother, the shit excuse for a parent of the evil little monster responsible for the Connecticut massacre, also seemed like she was vying for the prize of Worst Mother in History. She obviously had a psychotic little shit for a son yet she had a house full of guns and she shared her gun fetish with her diseased offspring.  The parents were divorced but I would also hold the father responsible for the heneious acts of his son. Are we to believe that he wasn’t aware that his son was evil and that his ex-wife was training him to be a more efficient mass murderer by instructing him in the use of firearms?

I don’t even understand why these people have children in the first place. They are obviously not up to the task of rearing them. The author of this article seems to think that it’s perfectly acceptable for her to unleash her version of evil into the world and seems unwilling to accept a shred of responsibility that her child is the way he is because she failed as a parent. I’m not saying that this is that case with all mentally ill children but I suspect that faulty parenting accounts for most of it.

“Only one policy has ever been shown to deter mass murder: concealed-carry laws.” - Ann Coulter, brain-dead troll.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." - Wayne LaPierre, vice president of child-killing lobby AKA the NRA

A sheriff’s deputy was at Columbine High School in 1999 and fired at one of the two killers while 11 of their 13 victims were still alive. He missed four times.

More filth from the child-killer lobby: 

A cradle of the American gun industry, firearm companies have defeated past gun-control measures by warning that they will close factories in the face of tighter regulations.

This is kind of like not making laws against heroin because we wouldn't want to take jobs away from heroin dealers except heroin kills fewer people than guns.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Un Franco, 14 Pesetas

One review of this charming film was titled “When Paradise was Called Switzerland” because a lot Spaniards went there to find work back in the Franco era (although the title refers to the Swiss currency). I almost missed last night’s football match between league leaders Barça and Atlético de Madrid because I was in the middle of this movie. I dragged myself away but hurried back. A lot of the film parallels my own experiences as a sort of tourist-immigrant and the bitter-sweet pull between home and adopted country. I suppose that one day I, too, will be longing for Spain and saying, “Daría lo que fuera por estar en la Gran Vía tomándome una caña y viendo pasar gente.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Will of the People

The photos are of my actual ballot in the recent Washington State election.  A few simple words on a piece of paper and suddenly the course of history has changed. A proposal is put before the legislature and then presented to the voters: the citizens, the people for whom all laws are written. The voters of Washington State had the good sense to pass both bills which set in place the legalization of marijuana for recreational use and allows same-sex couples to marry. My only question is this: what the fuck took so long for both of these measures to make it to a vote? This is one of the few instances where politicians have done their job which is to carry out the will of the people. This is the essence of democracy, this is democracy at its best, this is a proud moment.
These issues are hardly news in other parts of the world. Spain has had legal marriage for same-sex couples since 2005 and marijuana has at least been decriminalized in other places for quite a while. This may be ancient history for some but even if we are a little late at least the citizens of Washington State are on the right side of history.  The Catholic Church continues its mediaeval policy against homosexuality while denying women even a modicum of dignity or representation in church hierarchy. This certainly isn't the first time the Church backed the wrong side in the course of human history. Religion, in general, is and has been consistently on the wrong side of history.

But why should we stop here? I read recently that for the first time in decades America’s prison population is in decline. I say that we should hasten this trend by putting forth another proposal to voters that would strike down all mandatory sentencing, reserve prison cells only for violent offenders, and basically try to adhere to the words of our Constitution which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.

While we are dreaming how about proposing a law that ensures the rights and safety of cyclists in city traffic? As I have said on countless occasions, it drives me crazy when we search for answers to problems we have already solved. Most of the issues involved in providing transportation we solved over 150 years ago with the advent of the train and bicycle, two of the most efficient means of transport ever conceived.