Monday, December 28, 2009

Safety ... and the appearance of safety

I'd love to be perfectly safe traveling. I'd enjoy knowing that, when I get on a plane, there's no chance it will explode. I'd treasure the knowledge that my family and friends are in no danger when flying the (formerly) friendly skies. However, we all know that there's no such thing as perfect safety, short of locking ourselves in a fireproof/bombproof/entryproof home with sufficient provisions to live out our lives; and life would be more than a little dull if we did.

While I'd of course prefer that every terrorist on the planet would suddenly spontaneously combust (but live long enough to suffer tremendously), I'm going to continue to feel relatively safe traveling, hoping that our goofy government finally (and soon!) sorts out all its apparently unrelated and uncorrelated watch lists, no fly lists and other "important" lists to keep the fanatic crazies off my plane. I appreciate TSA doing their jobs and scanning luggage, patting down passengers (ok, actually, I hate the patdowns, but I like the idea of my fellow passengers not hiding bombs under sweaters) to find the bombers before they can sit over the fuel tank. I love the bomb-sniffing dogs circling through the lines at the airport to sniff out explosives (besides helping with safety, they're adorable!). All of these precautions make sense, if carried out appropriately.

What I can't stand is the imposition of the mere illusion of safety. Los Angeles International Airport is a mess right now. They have security stopping cars on the approach, looking in trunks, and peering under the chassis with mirrors. I've been through this after 9/11. It's a farce. I once went through the checkpoint with a rolled up blanket in my trunk, along with a tent and other camping gear I'd been too lazy to take out the week before. All the security guard did was glance at it. Maybe he had secret x-ray vision and could truly tell that my stuff was benign, but I can tell you that I didn't feel any safer going in. All it did was snarl up traffic for 2 miles on all sides of the airport!

I often travel for business, and one out of every 7 or 8 times I go through security I get chosen for an extra search. I wouldn't mind this if a huge gaggle of suspicious-looking men with shifty eyes didn't waltz right through the line without so much as an extra wanding. I certainly understand the arguments against racial profiling, but given that no middle-aged white woman has yet bombed a plane, and all of the recent people who have attacked the US have been men of a certain age and "racial profile," doesn't it make sense to pick the people most likely to cause trouble? That's like a bar bouncer letting in the guys in gang colors and keeping out the 75 year old mom of the bartender just so the gangbangers and their ilk don't feel picked on. It just doesn't make any sense. Any troubleshooter knows that you use past experience as a base for future action. Otherwise, what's the point of an investigation after an event?

I don't mind inconvenience for the purpose of ensuring my safety and the safety of all who travel. But don't waste my time, or my patience, on silly rules and impositions that are nothing more than window dressing. You're bugging me with that crap!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Materialistic Christmas

Have you watched any TV lately? If you have, you've no doubt seen the gazillion (yes, I counted them) commercials for luxury cars as Christmas gifts. That's fine. I know companies are out there to make money, and want to sell their products. What bugs me is that they strive to reach only the shallowest demographic possible -- people who choose their car based on what reaction it might get from others.

Honestly, I never, ever, not even once, thought about buying a particular car just for the joy of impressing the neighbors. I thought: "Will it be comfortable on a long trip?" "Will it be fun to drive?" "Will it be reliable for a long time?" I never thought: "Will someone else think I'm better because of it?"

As cynical as I am, I still find it hard to believe that people think this way, but the commercials (which must be successful, or they wouldn't be repeated year after year) prove me wrong. Take Lexus and Audi as prime examples. Every commercial focuses on how your neighbors will be impressed by that big red bow on your new car, or that you will turn heads as you drive down a busy street, or that people will turn away from other neighbors' holiday decorations to gawk at the headlights on your new car. The absolutely pathetic superficiality of anyone to whom such commercials would be appealing is stunning to me.

Does anyone (other than a man with a mid-life crisis) really buy a car to impress others? Well, maybe I shouldn't even bother asking that question. Having worked at a law firm where my fellow lawyers strived each year to buy flashier and more expensive cars than the other lawyers, I shouldn't be surprised. (I had one coworker who was 6'5" tall, but drove a Porsche Boxter because the boss said he thought Boxters were cool -- this guy's knees were up around his ears in that car!) But I guess I had naively hoped that such shallowness was innate only to those losers. Alas, unless these auto companies are targeting only my former coworkers, the phoniness and superficiality go much deeper into our society. How utterly sad for our culture.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Keep your grubby mitts off my money!

So Hillary has now pledged $100 billion of OUR TAX DOLLARS to some fund with a completely undefined purpose aside from the vague "helping developing countries with global warming." What?? Shouldn't they figure out what they need to do before committing money? And shouldn't she maybe see if this is something the American people favor, since it's our money?

Beyond all that, don't we have other important things to spend money on? Seriously, we're still in a recession (ask anyone who's still unemployed!), and have countless domestic problems, yet she thinks we should be wasting money on this? At a time when more and more former manmade-climate-change-fanatics are coming forward to admit that, well, there really is no proof of a connection between smog and climate change, maybe we should focus on fixing our problems here at home first. I'm all for cleaner air, but giving piles of my money to China and India isn't going to solve the problem.

Also, where is this cash going to come from? Do we just have $100 billion sitting around? Of course not. We'll borrow it from China, our biggest creditor. Then not only will we hand them cash to "prevent" climate change, but we'll hand them huge interest payments too. So it won't be $100 billion per year of tax money, it will be $100 billion plus somewhere around 8% interest (that's $8 billion per year additional).

How about using it to help homeless veterans? How about using it to end poverty? How about using it to make sure everyone has somewhere to live? How about using it to build more schools so kids aren't packed in 45 to a classroom? Or -- and here's a radical idea -- how about letting us keep more of our money so we can spend money to stimulate the economy?? But no. They want to just take it and use it as a giveaway for something that can't even be proven to be a problem anyway. Or maybe any warming of the globe is lethal? Like the warming that happened after the last ice age? How awful that was! I'd much prefer to live in an arctic zone....

They should at least be honest about it and just demand our paychecks go directly to the government. Get rid of the pretense, will ya? Until then, keep your hands off the money I work so hard to earn!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Something else that doesn't bug me....

The assistant who sits next to mine outside my office brought me a tamale for breakfast. Homemade. I'm a happy camper.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No.... We wouldn't want to send this by email or anything....

Anyone else see the irony of thousands of these being posted all over the Widget Co. campus?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


You couldn't be bothered to send me flowers ONCE the 6 months we dated, but think that sending them to me after I break up with you will change my mind??

Back to normal(ish)

I think someone must have spiked my water with xanex or something, because I've been very unannoyed lately. Things just haven't been bugging me like they should. But I've switched to vodka, so that should kill any feel-good drugs someone tries to slip me. Let the griping begin!! (Well, after my early morning meeting, anyway.)