Thursday, April 23, 2009

I've temporarily shut down my cranky rant shop until mid-September. Here's why:

I know this is going to sound weird, but in these bad economic times, my business is good.

I lie awake at night wondering if it's too good to be true. And why, at an age you don't want to hear about, I'm still working my butt off. Well, some of that has to do with the job my ex-wife's matrimonial lawyers did on me over a decade ago. But even so, it's intense, man.

At any rate, this crank is involved in a humongous project with deadlines that could strangle a gorilla. I gotta do it because the money's great — assuming the people who've contracted with me actually come up with the money.

My contract calls me to meet all my deadlines by end of August. And then I'm going to Paris for a short while to sit in some little cafe off Blvd. Raspail with an ice bag on my head and a glass of Cotes du Rhone in my hand, chilling out.

Until then, man, paying work is too intense to spend time blogging. Even though some of what Obama is doing — or rather, not doing — bugs me. Like not seizing the banks and spinning off their profitable businesses to pay for the cheesy mess that their bad businesses are in. Like not prosecuting the bad guys in the torture scandals. Like actually listening — listening! — to Timothy Geithner.

Then there are the shenanigans I'd like to jeer at, not least of those, the ones committed by Dick the former Veep. And Rummy the arrogant dummy, who, speaking of Dick, may just have discovered he has his private parts caught in a human rights wringer. And Condy who got caught lying about her approval of torture.

But none of that for now. I simply don't have time. So I'm back to the grind.

See you in September, assuming the checks really start coming in. I'll probably crankier than ever. Watch and you'll see.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The new Right Wingnut Tea Party Marching Society and Crackpot Conservatory Band

The recent flurry of so-called “Boston Tea Parties” would be outrageous if anybody (other than CNN) took ‘em seriously. But how could anybody when clowns like these show up? And check out the lady in the background left. She doesn’t even know which side is up.

More people making idiots of themselves here.

Thank you, Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog for staying on their case.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gum-chewers, Singapore, and hanging offenses. Listen carefully to this, you gum chewing b*st#rds!

I usually don’t advocate the death penalty, except for Osama bin Laden and certain Wall Street razzle-dazzle ripoff artists of the derivative persuasion.

So I’ve been controlling myself as best I can to keep from advocating death for gum-chewing slobs, but it’s getting harder. Let me tell you a story about that.

It was raining the other day. I had a business meeting to attend later in the afternoon, so I was better dressed than I usually am when I go to my gritty workspace on a gritty block in one of the grittiest parts of Manhattan. It's the kind of block you'd want to use for a setting in a noir novel.

The street is lined with buildings that rent out their storefronts to wholesale dress shops peddling cheap rags to cheesy retailers. Upstairs there’s mostly garment factories where undocumented workers still slave away for starvation wages. Just for variety we also have a gypsy fortune teller, a greasy no-name fried chicken place, a liquor store with Plexiglas panels to protect the sales clerks from their own patrons, and, in my building, a company that rents out telephone booth-sized desk spaces to self-employed working stiffs like me.

It was raining, so I was carrying an umbrella. I sat down on a bus to go to work. Since the umbrella was wet, I leaned it, closed, against the side of the bus. But when I got up to leave and grabbed my umbrella, something disgusting happened.

Somebody had stuck a wad of wet chewing gum to the inside wall of the bus. It was so low I didn’t see it. But it attached itself to my umbrella handle. When I grabbed the umbrella, a long, sticky, saliva-soaked strand of it stretched from the umbrella to the wall.

I tried to get the gum off. No way. It was like gum on the bottom of your shoe. You can scrape and pull and tug, and still the gum is there. Every office building and large apartment building in New York these days has a power washer, just to blast the gum off the sidewalk. Apply that kind of water pressure to your shoe and you might blow a hole in your foot. Apply it to your umbrella and goodbye umbrella.

But as I said, I tried. For my efforts, I got several strands of gum stuck to my umbrella handle, my hands and my suit. My brand new beautiful suit.

And that's when I
thought about Singapore.

In Singapore, possession of chewing gum is a crime. And Singpore is a no-kidding-around kind of country. Or city-state. Or whatever the hell it is. One thing's for sure. The place is a nightmare for everybody except chewing gum haters.

Four years ago they hanged an Australian citizen for possession of 14 ounces of heroin. He wasn’t selling it in Singapore. He was merely carrying it when his plane, bound from Cambodia to Australia, happened to put down in Singapore for a while.

This same country knows what to do about chewing gum. It’s outlawed. Gum smugglers don’t get the death penalty. But they can get a year in prison plus — and this is a big plus — five strokes with a cane.

This is no love-pat. A single stroke of a bamboo cane applied to your back can send flesh flying and scar you for life. Five strokes could put you in the hospital — if the authorities ever put jailbirds in a hospital.

And if you’re so much as caught chewing the stuff

… [the] act of chewing gum in Singapore is associated with similar penalties to those imposed for littering. The littering law requires a fine of $500 to $1,000 US Dollars (USD) for first time offenders. Repeat offenders may be fined up to $2,000 USD and assigned a Corrective Work Order (CWO). When serving a CWO for violating littering laws, offenders are made to clean public spaces, often while wearing a bright colored jacket. The media may also be invited to cover the event, increasing the severity of the penalty though additional public shame. The CWO as a penalty for chewing gum in Singapore was reportedly implemented in November of 1992.
So what I want to know is, where is repressive government now that we need it.

It's time we rounded up those pigs who chew gum and then throw the stuff on the ground, or stick it to the bottoms or sides of busses, the undersides of movie seats, the bottoms of restaurant tables...and cane the living daylights out of them. So far as I’m concerned, the definition of a gum litterer is every last damn gum-chewing S.O.B. on the planet.

Got that, you gum-chewing slobs?

And if caning doesn't work?

There’s always the gallows.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The New York Crank crankily concurs with on this

@%&!!# it!

I am sick of doing media stories. This isn’t an effing media blog. It’s mostly a cranky political blog. But my hand is being forced by the Associated Press.

If I’ve been following all the news stories correctly, the AP is threatening to bring it’s considerable resources down on the head of any poor wretch of a blogger who dares to link to an AP story. For that matter, the way I've read some news stories, they're even threatening bloggers who link to any newspaper story in a paper, website or broadcast medium that is a member ofthe AP. In daily journalism, that’s about every one of ‘em.

The nincompoops on the AP board are the thickest dunderheads to come down the pike since God invented the morons who defend AIG bonuses.

The AP's theory is that even by linking to their content — or to the various online publications that use their content — bloggers, including us unpaid bloggers, are somehow profiting from their labor.

Gimme a break! When we link our comments about the news to a newspaper or AP story, we're generating traffic for their own websites, which profit from every page view. If they stop us, they're cutting off their noses to...well, you know the old cliche. The AP reminds me of the 19th Century Luddites who destroyed the fabric mills that might have directly or indirectly employed them so they could eke out a subsistence living as cottage weavers.

This idiocy needs to be slapped down. So I have to concur with, that hereafter I will not link to any AP story, or to any newspaper website which on at least cursory inspection appears to belong to AP.

Instead, I will hearafter mention that “I read somewhere…” or that “I heard on a bus…” since what I’ll be repeating will be old news by the time I heard about it anyway. Who knows where I hear about things these days? A bus is as good as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. They can go generate their own Internet views. Got me?

For additional details on the total idiocy of the AP policy, see Mathew Ingram’s analysis, here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Outside magazine to freelancers: “Your check is in the mail.” Yeah, next fall’s mail, maybe.

There’s a reason they call writers “ink stained wretches.” And their life grows even more wretched if they get an assignment from a once-nifty magazine called Outside.

According to Fishbowl NY, a media blog,

While paying freelancers late "has always been an Outside thing," according to one source, in conjunction with the deteriorating economic climate, "it's only gotten worse." Multiple people with intimate knowledge of the situation at Outside reported payments being sent an average of four to six months after publication, with some invoices nine to 12 months past due. One person confirms being owed more than $10,000, and sources say that's the case for other contractors, as well.

A particular point of freelancer ire is how Outside sends reporters and photographers around the world, with them fronting the cost of those trips for overly long periods of time. One person said the magazine's failure to reimburse these expenses in a timely fashion puts the writers and photographers in a difficult position, as they can have thousands of dollars on their credit cards for half a year or more. "A lot of people want to work for Outside because they send people all over the planet, but it's very expensive and freelancers expense everything," the source explained. "[Outside owner Larry Burke]'s mentality is, 'Hey, I sent you to the far reaches of the world, you should feel lucky.' You can't do business like that."
Geez, Outside, I was planning to renew my subscription. But ya know what? I’ll send in my order a year or so from now. Meanwhile, why don’t you send the magazine ahead anyway?

Trust me. I’m good for the money.

Or as good as you are.