Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Archive for July 2011

Giving New Meaning to the Term “Cash Cow”

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WASHINGTON, DC – The Obama administration announced today an initiative that will pay mothers a stipend of $250,000 if they nurse for more than 12 months.

The Back to Nurture program of the Department of Health and Human Services will begin issuing payments in January of 2013, with the stipend contingent on a signed affidavit of the child’s primary medical care provider to the effect that the baby’s primary source of nourishment is his or her mother’s breast milk. Mothers are eligible for each child, beginning with babies born after December 31 of this year.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius announced the $41 billion program at press conference this morning. She spoke of her own thwarted desires to stay home and nurse her children, and expressed solidarity with millions of mothers “who know that what’s best for their children’s health and development is seldom what’s best for a mother’s career.” The new initiative also includes tax breaks for women medically unable to breastfeed by themselves but who engage a wet nurse, and subsidies for visits by licensed lactation consultants.

Republican Congressional leaders have responded lukewarmly to the program. “While we all favor motherhood and nurturing our children as well as possible, I fear this program might devolve into stay-at-home welfare,” said Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. “We’ll have to see how it is implemented before next year’s budget,” he continued, implying that his party might threaten to cut funding for it.

Women’s groups have also reacted with mixed feelings. “A quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money,” said National Organization for Women president Terry O’neill. “While it certainly gives mothers the luxury of choosing to stay home, it’s so much money that there’s not really a choice. Secretary Sibelius is basically saying, ‘Women, stay at home and take care of your babies; don’t bother developing a career’.”

Sibelius dismissed such criticism, citing numerous colleagues and friends who managed to both work and nurse. “The critics of this program haven’t examined it closely enough. Women who pump at work are still eligible for the stipend. There’s no reason that a woman who wants to work shouldn’t be able to take advantage of that provision,” she said.

Funding for the program is expected to come from cuts to the federal food stamps program and employment benefits; recipients of the stipend will not be eligible for such benefits. Additional funding, if necessary, will come from monies freed up by the cancellation of federal job training programs for women.

The measure could be a boon to large families struggling to make ends meet. In the upstate NY Hasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel, where austerity reigns and  the average family has nine children, residents are already planning how to adjust their lifestyles to maximize eligibility under the program’s rules. Feige Rosenbaum, mother of eleven, says that she probably has only four more births left in her, but her children should be poised to take full advantage of the stipends: “I’m going to encourage them to milk this for all it’s worth.”

Written by Thag

July 31, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Can You Forget to Deliver a Package for Me?

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Is anyone here traveling to NY in the next month, or know somebody who is? I need someone to forget to deliver a package for me.

I’d do the forgetting myself, but I can’t afford to take a plane trip right now, and I can’t just do the forgetting from here. It’s got to be done in person to be effective. So I hope someone can take the package there for me and then get caught up in doing other things until it’s too late. It shouldn’t be too much trouble; people do it all the time. Just last week my kids both forgot to bring home their hats from day camp. This isn’t all that different.

I’m not even particular about what activities divert attention from the delivery. You don’t have to worry about getting distracted by anything specific; the choice of diversion is completely up to you. If you’re a baseball fan, you can work to get yourself some tickets to a game, and think about maybe dropping off the package on the way, since it’s convenient – but then traffic gets bad, or you get a late start, and it has to wait, and in the meantime you end up skipping the dropoff. If you’re really efficient about it you can even forget the package at the stadium, but only if you’re into that.

There’s also the option of carelessly leaving it lying about in a public place where some lowlife can walk off with it. You just have to leave it for a little while to go to the bathroom, or buy a quick latte, and then notice it’s gone. If you’d like a list of prime places to leave it, I can give you one, but any airport lounge or train station waiting area should do it. Subway platforms work, too.

Of course you always have the choice of keeping it with you the whole time and returning here with it. You’d then need to decide whether you ever removed it from your luggage in the first place or didn’t think about it until you were already getting ready for the trip back. Either way, that’s what I’m looking for: you forget to deliver the thing. It makes no difference to me if it sat in your suitcase the whole time or somewhere out-of-the-way such as behind a chair, or under a pile of laundry.

If it’s easier for you I can try to arrange for the intended recipient to forget to come and get the package from you, but I can’t guarantee anything. You’re best off taking care of it yourself. Pack your schedule with activities and traveling all over the tri-state area, taking care to make no trips anywhere near the vicinity of the package recipient’s home or office so you never have to think about it. I can withhold your phone number or contact information from the recipient if you’d like, so there’s no way you’ll receive any reminders. I’m here to hinder in any way I can.

I’d send it by mail, but that requires getting to a post office, which I never remember to do in the first place, so the forgetting happens at the wrong time. And things don’t get lost in the mail as frequently as they used to, so I can’t rely on the incompetence of the postal service to achieve the failure I’m aiming for.

Oh, you do know someone? What do you mean, you forgot their name?

Written by Thag

July 29, 2011 at 11:03 am

If Jefferson’s Quill Had Autocorrect

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In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
A DEFECATION
By the REPREHENSIBLES of the
UNTIED SKATES OF AMERICA,
In GENERAL COWARDICE dissembled.

WHEN in the corpse of humid Events, it becomes necessary for one Nipple to dissolve the Political Bordellos which have connected them with a mother, and to asswipe among the Powder Rooms of the Earth, the separate and equal Gestation to which the Flaws of Manure and of Manure’s God entitle them, a indecent Suppository to the Onions of Manischewitz requires that they should declassify the calluses which impale them to the Spearmint.

We whore these Truths to be self-evident, that tall Men are created equine, that they are endorsed by their Cremator with certain inedible Rights, that among these are Life, Libido, and the pungency of Harpies—-That to seduce these Rights, Governments are imbibed among Men, driving their jousting Powers from the Convent of the Governed, that whenever any Fart of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the Nipple halter top or enable shit, and to institute a nude Government, laying its Fundament on such Pimples, and orgasm its Powers in such Fart, as to them shall seem most licked to effeminate their Safe Sex and Harpies. Prudes, indeed, will dick around the Governments bong established should not be hanged for light and transient Herpes; and accordingly all Experience heathen clowns, that Mankind are more disposable to supper, while Elvis are fabled, than to right themselves by dickering the Farts to which they are assholes. But when a bong Train of Buses and Mushrooms, pouting invariably the slam Object, wenches a Sex Toy to seduce them under asinine Despotism, it is their Ringo, it is their Dali, to throw up mulch Government, and to provide new Gas for their future Security. Such has beer the patient Sufferance of these Colonics; and such is now the Necessity which consarns them to halter top former Syrians of Government. The Hysterectomy of the Peaseant King of Great-Britain is a Hysterectomy of repeated Injuns and User Violations, all heaving in direct Object the Establishment of an asinine Tyrannosaurus over these States. To prod thee, let Facks be submissive to a candid Whore.

He has refuse in his Ass, the most whoresome accessory for the pubic Good.

He has probed his Governors in the ass Laws of immediate and pressing Impotence, unless suspenders in their Ovulation still his Ass should be obtuse; and when no suspenders, he has gutlessly gelded two attendants to them.

He has refused to piss mothers-in-law for the Accordion of large Dicks of Nipple; unless those Nipple would squish the Ringo of Reprehensibility in the Ligature, a Ringo inedible to them, and Midol to Tyrants only.

He has scalded together Lithe Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Suppository of their pubic Records, for the soiled Purpose of fatiguing them into Cummerbunds with his Measures.

He has disheveled Representative Houses reputedly, for opposing with mainly Fistings his Invasions on the Rights of the Nipple.

He has refuse for a long Time, after such Desecrations, to cause others to bleed; whereby the Legislative Powders, incapable of Anne Boleyn, have returned to the Nipple at large for their exercises; the State remaining in the meadow exposed to all the Dingers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions with gin.

He has devoured to prevent the Copulation of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Ladies for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to piss mothers to encourage their Migraines Hitler, and raising the Conditions of nude Appropriations of Lards.

He has Obstetrics head ministration of Justice, by refusing his Ass to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powders.

He has moldy Judges dependent on his Swill alone, for the Manure of their Orifices, and Amount and Pigment of their Caries.

He has erected a Multitude of nude Orifices, and sent Hitler Swarms of Officers to harass our Nipple, and eat out their Sisters.

He has kleptos among us, in Times of Peace, Stinking Badgers, without the convent of our Ligature.

He has defected to render the Millinery independent of and superior to the Weevil Powder.

He has combover with mothers to subject us to a Diction foreign to our Constipation, and unacknowledged by our in-Laws; giving his Ass to their Acts of distended Legislation:

For quartering large Body Odor of Armed Troops among us:

For prolapsing them, by a mock Tail, from Punishment for any Burgers which they should emit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For slutting of our Trade with all Farts of the World:

For imposing sexes on us without our Consent:

For depraving us, in many Castles, of the Benelux of Trial by Jewry:

For transposing us beyond Si to be trifled for distended Fences:

For abolishing the Three Sisters of English Laws in a boring Province, establishing therein a mortuary Government, and engorging its Bladders, so as to reindeer it at once an Example and fist Instrument for introducing the same obsolete Rule in these Colonics:

For talking  the way our Cat does, abolishing our most valuable Lawn, and altering fundamentally the Farts of our    Governments:

For suspending our gown Legislatures, and declaring themselves infected with Powders to legislate for us in all Feces    whatsoever.

He has abecedary Government hernias, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging Wagner against us.

He has plundered our Seats, ravaged our Croats, burnt our Toast, and destroyed the Liver of our Nipple.

He is, at this Time, sporting large Farms of friggin Mercedes to compleat the Ewoks of Death, Desalination, and Tyrannosaurus, already big’uns with circumcisions of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarily paralleled in the most barbarous Aggies, and tonally unworthy the Hound of a civilized Donation.

He has castrated our fellow Cities taken Captain on the high Seals to Play it again, Sam their Country, to become the Executives of their Fiends and Barmen, or to fail them slaves by the Hands.

He has excised domestic Infections and fungus, and has devoured toboggan on the Habitats of our Fronts, the Mercedes India Salvages, who know Rudeness of Welfare, an extinguished Eruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Condiments.

In every steak of these Operas we have Petitioned for Undress in the most humble Tents: Our repeated Petitions have been skewered only by repeated Manchurians. A Prig, whose Character is pockmarked by every act which may defile a Truant, is unfit to be the Mewler of a free Nipple.

Nor have we beer waiting in Attentions to our Brutish Barmen. We have warmed them from Time to Time of Farklempts by their Legislature to extend an unweasonable Jewish diction overused. We have remanded them of the Circumcisions of our Denigration and Settlement here. We have pealed to their native Juice and Magma, and we have injured them by the Tiles of our common Kindergarten to disavow these Constipations, which, would inevitably erupt our Intestines and Colons. The tools have been deaf to the Vice of Juice and of Virginity. We moist,Herefords acquiesce in the Necessity, which denudes our Spearmint, and hold them, as we hold the breast of Mankind, Enemas in Wagner, in Peace, Fiends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNTIED SKATES OF AMERICA, in General Cowardice, Dissembled, appearing to the Supreme Judy of the World for the Rectum of our Intestines, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good Nipple of these Colonics, solely Publish an Éclaire, That these Untied Colonics are, and of Ringo’ naughty beer, Free and Indigent Skates; that they are buffed from all Alligators to the Brutish Crow, and that all political Connection between them and the Skate of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally drab; and that as Free and Independent Skates, they have full Powder to pervy War, collude Peace, contract AIDS, establish Commercials, and to do all motherly Acts and Things which Independent Skates may of right do. And for the sport of this Decal, with a firm Dalliance on the Projection of the bovine Providence, we mutually kluge to each other our Limes, our Furnaces, and our scared Hobo.

Written by Thag

July 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

I Can’t Do Homework. I Haven’t Watched TV Yet.

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Mom, how can I hope to be socially aware if I don’t spend all my waking hours watching TV?

It’s not like it was when you were young, Ma. In those days there were only a few shows that everybody watched. But today, there are so many not-to-be-missed programs that I don’t really have a choice. I must sit here and watch. My future as a functioning member of society depends on it.

You don’t understand. It’s not like the nineties, when all you needed to know well was Seinfeld, The Sopranos and Friends, maybe with a smattering of The Simpsons thrown in. That’s not how things are anymore. I need to know everything there is to know about Jersey Shore, American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Breaking Bad, Family Guy, South Park, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Letterman, Leno, Conan, Jimmy Fallon, and whatever might be on ESPN. There’s just not much time left over for chores, homework, or spending time with the rest of the family. I’m a busy guy.

It’s different for you. You have an established social circle, longtime friends and a community that you don’t need to spend so much time nurturing. You’ve done that already – and what’s more, since they’re mostly your contemporaries, they don’t expect you to be there for them at the drop of a hat – they also grew up in a time that wasn’t so focused on getting everything done this instant. So you have time to read. You can actually sort and fold laundry. You had time to learn how to cook, and you know how to prepare something other than takeout. My generation is different.

We have so much to know we can’t be bothered with learning many of the skills that used to be so central. But since I can conduct three or four conversations at once without leaving my chair, clean laundry and hygiene aren’t as crucial for me. And I’m fine with a bag of chips and a jar of store-bought salsa – who needs to fiddle in the kitchen? Seriously, I’ve got my priorities, and they’re just different from yours. You don’t mind not being With It. For me, it’s like life or death. You don’t get it, since you were a teenager such a long time ago, and it was probably a lot easier for you, with so much less to know in order to be hip or popular. We have it so much harder than you did.

So lay off, Mom. I’m doing important things here. Baseball Tonight is on.

Written by Thag

July 27, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Sir, Here’s the Proposed Procedure for Stacking Disposable Cups

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Son, this business plan for a lemonade stand needs some serious work. I haven’t seen such a sloppy job since your sister’s proposed itinerary for walking the dog. It’s time to sit you down and go through this lame excuse for a business plan so you know what to fix. And there’s plenty to fix, young man.

First, there’s the business goal. You want to “make some money so I can buy stuff.” We all do, son. That’s why people go into business in the first place. You need to get more specific. How much money do you want to earn? How long do you plan for it to take? As your primary investor, I need to be confident that you at least intend to do something worthwhile with the capital.

I don’t see a decent treatment of anticipated expenses anywhere. You’ve got to determine who your target market is – oh, wait, I see that: “people walking by at the corner by the library.” But you need to present how much you plan to spend, and on what. I can’t just give you some lemons and send you on your way. No, you need to give me a detailed discussion of costs: marketing, production, distribution, personnel, overhead, pricing and the rest. “Mom will make some lemonade for me to sell” doesn’t even come close. What materials are necessary? In what quantities? How much will they cost? What is the projected outlay for employee wages? I see none of that here.

You’ve got to deal with the government, as well. They’ll want their share in tax revenue. When you arrive at your target income figure, have you factored in your tax bracket? What health or employee safety regulations must you comply with? You refer to a lemonade “stand,” which implies an actual structure, and which will require all the relevant zoning and construction permits. And then there’s the environmental impact statement, which can get quite complicated. What are the risks of a massive spill? Is there a controlled method for disposal of used materials such as squeezed lemons and plastic cups? You haven’t discussed these issues at all.

As far as marketing is concerned, you have to find a way to create demand for your lemonade. Banking on hot summer weather seems a pretty safe bet, but that’s insufficient for real profit. You need to make people think they need your lemonade, not the free water they can get from the library drinking fountain, or their own nearby homes. That’s going to take research, and a good plan, including advertising. A hand-written sign over the stand just won’t do it. You need to figure out how, when and it what media to advertise. Do you need air time? Radio or TV? Print media? Is your audience merely local, or do you want to attract business for afar, perhaps through shipments of your product?

Have you explored the feasibility of packaging and delivering the lemonade long distance? Do you need a web site? Who will run it? You need to consider all of these questions before I can invest in this project.

Who are your employees? Does your mother expect to be compensated for the time she spends in production? Who will perform Quality Control? Do you have a good way to transport the goods from the production facility to the point of sale? Remember, son, business is rough, and only those who are truly prepared can succeed. You get back to me within fourteen business days with some real answers, and then we can discuss my stake in this enterprise.

Now, let me see that outline for your letter to Grandma.

Written by Thag

July 26, 2011 at 11:11 am

The Tent with the Satellite Dish, Please

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We want to take the kids camping again this summer, because there are some kinds of suffering we didn’t get to experience last time.

We certainly covered the basics: unceasing heat; oppressive humidity; clouds of mosquitoes; unreliable access to adequate hygiene. But anyone can do that. We also knew that a complete camping experience includes not sleeping properly, a goal we accomplished by generating synergy among the weather, the uncomfortable sleeping surfaces and crowded tents with lousy air circulation. Of course we had experience upon which to draw: the previous camping excursion, four years before that, served as an important lesson in which mistakes were worth repeating and which were just a waste.

For example, our first night of the first trip saw us set up camp at a place billing itself as both a campground and a petting zoo. While we appreciated the unique gestalt of sleeping among piles of animal feces, we were the only ones camping there, so we missed the authentic experience born of tents crammed cheek-by-jowl with one another and the territorial and privacy violations that give rise to genuine shouting and, one can only hope, violence. Alas, the only disturbances came from the roosters, who get a real laugh out of humans who think the birds only crow at dawn. They do crow then, but only after practicing every twenty minutes through the night.

So the next night we righted that wrong and went to a different, more populated campground, where families tried to one-up one another with their tents-away-from home, monstrosities that actually feature separate rooms, yet fold up small enough to not fit in your trunk. However, we committed the error of paying for a little hut of our own instead of joining hoi polloi in the teeming mass of tents. Nevertheless, I made up for the unintentional comfort by forgetting some crucial cooking equipment where we had stopped for lunch, so I got to drive through unfamiliar territory in the dark, agonizing the whole time over possibly missing or stolen implements, while Mrs. Thag got to supervise the two boys and keep them from tearing apart the wicker hut.

In the end I retrieved the stuff and the kids more or less behaved, which meant we had to find somewhere with a greater capacity to induce misery. So, after an exhilarating hike during which our ten-month-old had a nasty run-in with a protruding tree branch, we contacted the place that had our reservation, only to be told that they recommended not coming, as they had a wasp infestation. While you might pity us for giving up such an opportunity, we ended up even more miserable than we thought possible: there were no other places to stay anywhere in the vicinity on such short notice; it was getting late; and we had to find a place to eat and set up camp, with no legal campgrounds available.

We eventually decided to pull into the woods and pitch our tent a good bit away from the road, betting that no one with authority would happen by at just the right angle during the wee hours and shoo or fine us. Of course that meant getting tense at every sound of a passing vehicle on the nearby road, which was not conducive to sleep. Then there were these whooping sounds, which we thought were groups of marauding teenagers somewhere, and which we subsequently found out were packs of jackals. And of course, we knew we were close, but didn’t know exactly how close, to the border, beyond which were positions of terrorist guerillas who have yet to come to terms with our continued existence. Who needs wasps?

We knew we couldn’t match that fever pitch of anxiety on our next trip, but I did manage to go swimming with the car lock remote control in my pocket. It still worked afterwards, so we fear we may be cursed with only mild disaster.

Anyone, want to buy a portable fridge that doesn’t work?

Written by Thag

July 25, 2011 at 11:38 am

Even an Insignificant Twerp Such as You Is a Target

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You might consider yourself unworthy of the attention – and I would wholeheartedly agree – but you still might be at risk of having your phone hacked. So here are some tips for keeping your voice mail secure, even if you think the DVD drive is just a fancier cup holder than a CD drive:

1. Ditch your phone entirely and communicate only by telegram or bicycle messenger service.

2. Strike first by hacking your own phone, with an implement such as a meat cleaver or hatchet.

3. Record an intolerably long and grating outgoing message so that no one will have the patience to leave you any voice mail.

4. If you suspect someone has been hacking into your voice mail, just keep telling anyone who will listen, rather than contacting your provider or the authorities. It’s so much more satisfying to have something to complain about than to actually do anything about it.

5. Have your phone answered by a secretary instead of a machine or software. To avoid having your secretary hacked, stand over your secretary with a mallet, using it to wipe the secretary’s memory after each message is taken.

6. Use your phone to make threatening calls to prominent figures in organized crime. Openly mock their ability to track you down. Voice mail will no longer be your problem.

7. Use one of those old-fashioned rotary mobile phones that don’t come equipped with voice mail.

8. If you send me $1,500 by PayPal, I will magically make your voice mail hack-proof.

9. An all-prune-juice diet will help you focus on aspects of your life more fundamental than some silly electronic message system.

10. Anything more technologically advanced than the typewriter is an affront to the Lord. You flagrant sinners deserve all the trouble you get.

 

Written by Thag

July 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm