Archive for November 2012
Originally posted January 7, 2012
Let’s not beat around the bush. Grandma isn’t getting any younger, and she’s no longer the independent woman we once knew. It’s time to make her remaining time on Earth easier by putting her in an Assisted Dying facility.
I hate the term “nursing home” just as much as you do, Jared. It’s far too euphemistic a phrase for a place that slowly sucks the will to live out of a person by immersing him or her in an environment characterized primarily by decaying minds and bodies. We should just call a spade a spade – and I do not refer here to the pinochle and bridge games with which Grandma will occupy her afternoons until the endless, grinding routine drives her into depression, malnutrition and death.
We know Grandma has a hard time getting around ever since she broke her hip, and she needs help just to do basic housekeeping. Well, at an assisted dying facility, they have staff dedicated to those tasks just to drive home the point that the residents have outlived any usefulness and might as well croak.
There’s also the matter of her hygiene and medical care. I admire Grandma’s mental acuity as much as the next member of this family, but we must honestly confront the question: can we rely on Grandma to take the right pills at the right times, and watch out for undesirable interaction between medications? And what about foods that make the medication regimen trickier? Would we ever forgive ourselves if she were to make a mistake, or forget she’d already taken that day’s dose, and wrought unspeakable havoc on her already failing metabolism? I doubt any one of us does not see the merit in having someone else watch over her, patronizingly doting on a fiercely independent spirit as if she’s a bumbling preschooler, to the point that Grandma no longer sees life as worth living.
Truth is, Grandma’s been lucky. She hasn’t suffered from incontinence as much as most people her age. So she won’t even have to worry, initially, about needing an attendant to change her and wipe her, what with her restricted mobility and all. But that time will come, and we don’t want our dear Grandma to be left lacking where other seniors have to experience the indignity of surrendering personal hygiene to a condescending, able-bodied assistant who habitually uses locutions such as, “Oh, are we ready to have our diaper changed?”
It’s settled, then. Wanda, you and I should sit Grandma down and try to convince her this is the only realistic option. We have to stress how tough it is on us, having to devote so much time and energy to her care, time we should be using to take care of our own families and needs. She needs to see reason – that we cannot by ourselves make her wish to expedite her exit from this world. We need her cooperation.
That way, instead of squabbling over her estate, we can preemptively spend it on her stay at the assisted dying facility.
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New York, November 29 (AP) – Following the lead of the United Nations, the family of Mike and Debra McGee of Flushing, New York, voted to grant the Palestinians the status of non-member observers in their household.
The measure passed 3-1 at a family meeting this morning over breakfast, just meeting the 75% requirement for passage of such a proposal. Both Mike and Debra voted in favor, with Alex, 18, opposed , Patricia, also 18, abstaining and Stacy, 15, in favor. Karl, 12, did not participate.
The vote followed weeks of intense debate among the members of the household whether to endorse the evolving Palestinian bid for statehood. While the positions of Mike and Alex were more or less clear from the beginning, Debra and Patricia had oscillated between lukewarm support and skepticism. Both reported they had been subject of heavy lobbying from supporters of Israel and of the Palestinians.
With the motion approved, the Palestinians will now have the right to participate in family meetings and possibly join various committees or groups that the McGees maintain. These include a Wednesday night poker game in which Mike plays a prominent role and a neighborhood watch program that Debra oversees, among many others.
But the status falls short of the full membership that the other family members enjoy. They will not be eligible to receive an allowance, despite the economic challenges facing the Palestinian Authority, and access to the family DVD collection will remain off limits. Similarly, family vacations will not include the Palestinian representative, but the representative will be permitted to sit in the passenger seat when any of the others drive the family car as part of the car pool for Karl’s Tuesday afternoon swimming lessons, if space is sufficient.
Perhaps most important, the delegation will not have a vote in family decision-making, which often covers areas of critical interest to, and impact on, the Palestinian issue: how to balance the individuals’ responsibilities with their privileges. The limited privileges will not offset the Palestinians’ obligation to clean the dishes every Thursday night, to take out the garbage every evening and to walk Sasha, the Labrador retriever, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
The Israeli and American administrations declined to make any official statements in advance of the vote, trying to project nonchalance, in keeping with their stated interest to minimize the vote’s impact; they believe it will be shaped by perception more than substance. “The approval of this measure would give the Palestinian cause a symbolic victory at most,” said Marshall Law of the Near East Research Department (NERD), a non-partisan think-tank, before the vote. “Of greater concern to the supporters of both sides is how events play out in the long term. If Israel is seen to ascribe great significance to this vote that in itself will cast them as losing ground – but if they shrug it off, ironically, the impact of the approval will be much more manageable.” Privately, American and Israeli sources admitted they were initially surprised to learn of the Palestinian efforts to sway the McGees.
Other analysts echoed the NERD assessment. “The Palestinians can do very little with this tactically,” said Vida Minh, director of the Mediterranean-Occident Research-Outreach Nexus (MORON), “but it can be an important element in a strategic approach that relies on the accumulation of incremental pieces that, in aggregate, will eventually constitute a political fait accompli.” The only thing that would remain, said Minh, is a formal declaration of statehood.
That declaration may have to wait until many more pieces are in place. The McGees are but a small part of the Flushing community, and the Palestinians have historically not fared well among Flushing households, many of whom have professed support for Israel. They may have to settle for isolated expressions of symbolic endorsement in neighborhoods everywhere, a time-consuming approach.
Of greater concern is the geographic and political divisions among the Palestinians themselves, divisions that make any realistic state apparatus farfetched. The privileges that the Palestinians now enjoy in the McGee household will do little to offset the marginalization of the West-Bank-based Fatah faction of the Palestinian Authority if they cannot demonstrate that such privileges can translate soon into concrete advantages. The Gaza-Strip-based Hamas faction has been openly dismissive of the non-violent Fatah strategy, and have called any efforts to enlist the McGee family a waste of time.
The Palestinians have yet to outline their intentions following the acceptance of their application, but analysts widely expect them to focus next on the Fernandez family of Hempstead, Long Island.
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MALVERNE, NY (AP) – After three years of on-again, off-again dating, Hector Lopez and Maria Polkowski decided yesterday to put an end to their troublesome courtship, announcing a wedding date of December 31.
At a press conference on the steps of the city clerk’s office, Lopez, 41, and Polkowski, 39, explained that their decision involved a host of factors including their advancing ages, annual incomes, bathroom habits and the complete breakdown of both parties’ relationships with their respective parents. “Hector and I thought long and hard about this, “said Polkowski. “We shouted at each other every night for three weeks. I could have done more, but my vocal cords wouldn’t hold out.”
“A good thing, too,” added Lopez, “because she almost had me convinced it was time to dump that sad sack. But I took a good look in the mirror and asked myself if I’d really be better off with no one in my life to nag me for coming home drunk every day.”
The couple met in the waiting room at the dentist, when Lopez needed a root canal and Polkowski stopped in to deliver her back issues of Newsweek. The two struck up an awkward conversation, as Lopez’s pain prevented him from properly pronouncing most words. Polkowski made repeated unnecessary visits to Dr. Gertler’s practice on the off chance that Lopez would be there for further treatment. “I even took back issues of random magazines and supermarket circulars as an excuse,” she confessed. The dentist agreed to put them in touch, and the pair soon discovered shared interests in Kenny G, UFOs and gambling addiction support groups.
However, Lopez’s financial situation worsened after he was laid off from his pizza delivery job, and the instability threatened his relationship with Polkowski. The relationship petered out after several months, or so they thought: the two wound up on opposing sides of a car accident several months later, and the romance was rekindled. The next two years saw a cycle of co-dependence and enabling of destructive behaviors, primarily Lopez’s drinking and Polkowski’s addiction to daytime soap operas.
At the press conference, Lopez declined to specify how he intends to address the challenges of marriage. “It’s like playing house. I’ve played house before. It’s even more fun when you’ve had a few beers. So that’ll be what we do. Maria, isn’t that what Jack did on The Young and the Restless? Maria? Hello?”
At press time, Polkowski was unavailable, as press time coincides with the opening credits of The Bold and the Beautiful.
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Washington, DC (AP) – The House of Representatives and Senate each took up the issue of the run-on sentence this week both houses inaugurated Run-On Sentence Committees to handle legislation written in that form.
Anticipated budget cuts are expected to include office supplies and ink this means the various documents used in legislation will have to use less ink one of the ways Congress will cope with that requirement is the elimination of many periods from the documents paragraphs that under normal circumstances would be divided into several discrete sentences will now be rendered as a continuous, if awkward, sentence.
“This is an important landmark in the evolution of the legislative process,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “and I would especially like to thank the Republican leadership for demonstrating that we can work together on important issues I hope this is the harbinger of a fruitful period of bipartisan cooperation.”
The stenographers charged with recording the proceedings in Congress welcome the change as well they appreciate the effort it saves them every twelve or thirteen seconds instead of having to reach all the way over for the period key they simply keep on typing, “it takes a little bit of getting used to – old habits die hard,” said Theresa Olssen, a Senate stenographer since 2004, “but once we got the hang of it it was basically smooth sailing I think this approach should be taught in schools that’s how most people talk nowadays anyway.”
To kick off the Committee’s activities in Congress the House of Representatives plans a ceremony over which John Boehner will preside it will introduce the members of the committees on both houses the committees will consist of seventeen members in the 535-member House and eleven in the 100-member Senate the committees will convene on the first Wednesday of each month to monitor adherence to the new punctuation guidelines and discuss ways to improve the performance of any representatives lagging in adapting to the new run-on standard disciplinary measures may be weighed for those who continually revert to the previous format.
Boehner has warned his fellow Republicans to stay in line, as further changes are forthcoming they include a provision mandating other variations from classic grammatical and syntactical forms the dangling participle is already part of a draft proposal to be introduced in the spring in order to further save on explanatory clauses.
Being a new form, Boehner expects the participle, too, as well as the sentence ending with a preposition, to take time to get used to.
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New York, November 26 (AP) – The United Nations Security Council voted 12-3 today to accept a joint European-American proposal to bring the horrific violent conflicts in Africa to an end by obliterating all human life there with nuclear weapons.
Protracted civil wars and terrorism in Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria and elsewhere have proved far too complex and bloody to resolve, explained US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. “We thought we had the conflict in Congo licked ten years ago,” she said, “but government incompetence, corruption and disorganization, combined with rebel brutality and outside meddling, have made things worse.”
The West bears the lion’s share of responsibility for much of the bloodshed in Africa, said Jan Grauls, head of Belgium’s mission to the UN, and must therefore assume the bulk of the burden for ending it. Though not currently a Security Council member, Belgium’s brutal, exploitative administration of the Congo in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries prompted the nation to lobby council members heavily, in favor of a comprehensive solution. France, also once a colonizer of Africa and one of the council’s permanent members, aggressively took up the motion once it was introduced.
The Security Council released a statement that read, in part: “The Council has resolved to take one of its most drastic measures ever, in response to one of the most severe humanitarian crises ever. The civil wars, ethnic unrest and rampant disease in Africa cry out for a permanent solution. This decision paves the way for just such a solution, and the Council anticipates that nations with the means to participate in the effort will do so with alacrity. May the nations of the world always reach agreement this quickly when it comes to human suffering.”
It remains unclear when, if at all, the nuclear holocaust will be unleashed. The Council did not set a timetable, nor did it assign specific responsibility. Instead the members split into several working committees to hammer out a roster of participants and a preliminary list of necessary resources, and which countries might provide them.
The United States, Russia and China, as the three largest nuclear powers, are the obvious choices for supplying the materials, while France, Britain, India and Pakistan are far less likely to part with even part of their limited arsenals just to wipe a billion black people off the face of the Earth. Israel has never acknowledged possessing atomic weapons, and given the history of the Security Council’s perceived hostility to the Jewish state, is unlikely to participate. Iran is suspected of pursuing development of a nuclear arsenal, but maintains its nuclear program is strictly for civilian power generation and research; it nevertheless approached the Council with an offer to supply fissible material for the purpose of this initiative.
According to Noah Itall, Professor of International Relations at Columbia University, it is unlikely that any nuclear action will take place before 2014, and even then it will probably not cover the entire continent. “The most unstable, miserable parts of Africa are sub-Saharan, and that’s where the bulk of the effort will likely be directed,” he said in an interview. “That’s also where AIDS is most rampant, and where diamonds are fueling a bunch of brutal conflicts, so this initiative can kill three major birds with one stone.”
Whether or when the rest of the continent gets wiped clean will determine on a host of factors, chief among them the availability of oil and other natural resources in the target areas. For that reason, Egypt and other North African countries are likely to be spared, said Itall. “But East Africa will definitely be second in line – the famines and wars in Ethiopia and Sudan are just begging for this kind of resolution, and the instability and piracy of Somalia will probably mean a double dose of ICBMs.”
The three dissenting votes came from Togo, South Africa and Morocco.
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Boise, Idaho (Reuters) – The Aryan Secession Society (ASS) held a demonstration today in downtown Boise to protest the observance of Black Friday and Black Monday. Thirty-five ASS members held aloft placards proclaiming the United States a “White Christian Nation,” and chanting slogans to the effect that people of African descent do not deserve such a national holiday, let alone two.
The popularly accepted etymology of the terms has them referring to the kickoff of the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas shopping season, when retailers anticipate seeing the red-ink deficit numbers turn to black-ink positive balances in their ledgers. To ASS people, however, any mention of the term “black” in a non-negative context threatens the perception of the world they wish to maintain.
In fact the term began in Philadelphia in the mid-twentieth century in reference to post-Thanksgiving pedestrian crowds, but ASS will hear none of it. “If it’s black, send it back!” read a sign, meaning back to Africa, where blacks, and humanity itself, originated.
“Keep Christmas White!” shouted Anthony LaRouche, who had brought along his four-year-old daughter Eva. “We’re not going to stand here and let some Kenyan turn our calendar into some set of perverted African pagan cannibal festivals,” he explained, betraying monumental ignorance of current events, history, anthropology and basic common sense. When informed that the term preceded Barack Obama’s presidency by several decades and had nothing to do with race, LaRouche called it “that much more insidious, because everyone thinks it’s innocuous.”
ASS founder and Director Skidd Marx exhorted his followers with a megaphone and haranguing passers-by to sign a petition calling for a repeal of the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth Amendments to the Constitution, a measure that they believe would revoke the citizenship of blacks, deny them the right to vote and restore them to slave status. The Amendments were ratified in the 1860’s and have long been a matter of national consensus.
“This nation could have been great, but it lost its way and now honors the wrong people!” Marx told the assembled crowd. “No more blacks in November! That’s all you need to remember!” The attendees took up the chant, making it all the way through five times before losing steam and waiting for Marx to say more.
Marx said he considered the gathering a success, especially in terms of numbers, as the organization has struggled to attract membership and attendance. “Our problem is our name – we don’t really have the name recognition of, say, a Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation,” he said. “But this time around we asked our members to bring along any family that might be staying with them for Thanksgiving, and that upped the numbers by at least ten.” Last year’s rally was canceled on account of rain.
Boise residents misunderstood the intent of the demonstration, thinking that the banners reading “ASS” were related to some election campaign, even though election campaign season ended weeks ago. “Isn’t that some environmental group?” asked Joe Whitaker, 38, a pharmacist visiting from Ketchum. “Americans for Safer Sewage or something like that?”
“What a dumb name,” he said, shaking his head as he walked away, holding this month’s issue of Ebony.
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New York, NY (AP) – Nate Silver, the statistician renowned for his accuracy in calling the outcomes of election campaigns, showed similar prowess in predicting that your first date with Stephanie would end in disaster.
Silver uses a complicated algorithm to model the objects of his predictions, though the actual code remains proprietary. His influential Five-Thirty-Eight blog, carried by the New York Times, correctly predicted the November 2012 electoral results in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia. In advance of your date, Silver’s analysis concluded with the assessment that the match was doomed from the start, albeit with significant comic potential.
Silver’s analysis examined your tendency to get lost driving through new areas, no matter how simple the layout or directions. In fact, as events turned out, you went to the wrong entrance of the apartment complex to meet Stephanie, and would up waiting at an unanswered door for ten minutes before managing to contact her on your mobile device.
He also cited your minimal forethought; this was borne out when, on the way to pick Stephanie up, you suddenly remembered to buy some flowers. You neglected to ask the florist for roses without thorns, ensuring that both you and Stephanie would struggle awkwardly to grasp the bunch of flowers. While you were in the shop, the police ticketed your car for parking in a No Standing zone.
This series of mishaps triggered what Silver had already seen as your lack of concentration when events do not go as planned, exacerbating the unease when you finally reached Stephanie’s door and all but shoved the bouquet of thorny roses into her arms. Your clumsy attempts to disentangle your sleeve from the thorns as they ensnared hers could have served as an experience over which to commiserate and perhaps bond, but your predisposition to overreaction made Stephanie more wary than she would otherwise be.
Silver predicted at least one occurrence of your closing the door too soon in eagerness to show gallantry, resulting in part of Stephanie’s clothes getting caught. It happened twice, once on the way into the car from her apartment and once on the way out.
Similarly, his analysis accounted for your impaired sense of humor, indicating somewhere between thirteen and sixteen attempts at jokes that would fall flat; four that would offend; and one that would convince Stephanie that the long-term prospects with a man such as you were grim. The only datum that did not match Silver’s prediction involved the last item, but only because the sweeping, ignorant, bigoted comment you were about to make regarding illegal immigrants was interrupted by a loud sneeze at a neighboring table. As a result of the sneeze you felt more compelled to make a misplaced, borderline vulgar remark instead, and the stilted conversation never again returned to immigrants, or any other topic of substance.
Silver assessed the odds of Stephanie wishing to continue the date after dinner at 27 to 1, in light of his other prediction that you would make a big display of properly calculating the tip down to the exact cent, and your pretending to know more about wine than you do, and doing it badly. Stephanie requested that you drive her home instead of stopping along the beach for a walk, as you had originally intended, and the drive home was wordless.
That last development gave Silver’s calculations an uncanny accuracy, as he has estimated the number of words exchanged between you and Stephanie at 8,775 for the entire evening, with you doing the vast majority of the talking. When you entered the car to drive her home, the total had reached 8,768, leaving only the “Good night,” and “See you” to bring the final total within three of the prediction.
Silver also accurately predicted that you would nearly crash the car in frustration on your way home, where you would kick yourself repeatedly for the cluster of errors. He also gave you a 96% chance of drinking yourself to sleep that night, but not before failing to console yourself with some online porn, an act that would only further depress you by highlighting the gap between fantasy and your soul-crushing reality.
However, Silver did not dare predict anything long-term that Stephanie would do afterwards; his notes explained that empirical analysis has yet to produce a reliable predictive mechanism for female behavior.
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