Sunday, December 28, 2008


In honor of the forgotten words of dead mostly dead (looking) people everywhere, today we continue our weekly casual examination of:







(That's an echo.)

When business in the United States underwent a mild contraction in 1927, the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. More disastrous, however, was the Federal Reserve's attempt to assist Great Britain who had been losing gold to us because the Bank of England refused to allow interest rates to rise when market forces dictated (it was politically unpalatable). The reasoning of the authorities involved was as follows: if the Federal Reserve pumped excessive paper reserves into American banks, interest rates in the United States would fall to a level comparable with those in Great Britain; this would act to stop Britain's gold loss and avoid the political embarrassment of having to raise interest rates.

The "Fed" succeeded: it stopped the gold loss, but it nearly destroyed the economies of the world, in the process. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market-triggering a fantastic speculative boom. Belatedly, Federal Reserve officials attempted to sop up the excess reserves and finally succeeded in braking the boom. But it was too late: by 1929 the speculative imbalances had become so overwhelming that the attempt precipitated a sharp retrenching and a consequent demoralizing of business confidence. As a result, the American economy collapsed.

--from the essay "Gold and Economic Freedom" by Alan Greenspan, 1966 (wherein he argues FOR the gold standard)

NOTE: This was 20 years prior to him being named Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. 30 years prior to the excess credit which his Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market-triggering a fantastic speculative boom. And nearly 35 years prior to the same thing happening in the real estate market. Cast in this light, his "Oops, I failed to detect a flaw in the model that defines how the world works" excuse somewhat breaks down.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Is More And Ho Ho Ho

That's my neighbor's house across the street. I know it's a bad picture, but I'm a bad photographer and people started asking questions after the fifteenth take so I kinda rushed it. Plus, this is only about half of it, and it was hard to get all the lights in the shot because they're synchronized to the music that plays till freaking midnight and some were mid-blink.

This sort of thing used to piss me off. The vacuum-esque shrill of 37 inflatables. The unending chirp of looped MIDI Christmas carols. The obnoxious cram-it-all-in attitude devoid of style or forethought. The—OK, possibly it still pisses me off, but I was trying to make a point here... What was it?... Hell if I know.

Anyway, Merry C—

Oh yeah, I remember. This used to piss me off so much that one day a few years back I'd finally had enough (and probably like seven Coronas), so I walked across the street to have a little chat with my idiot neighbors. I didn't know what I was going to say. I only knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. I ring the doorbell and my neighbor answers and I open my mouth to launch the first volley of sarcasm bombs, but then I stop because I realize for the first time that my neighbor—the guy I see everyday walking up and down his driveway, the asshole who never waives back no matter how many times I waive, who doesn't even acknowledge me—turns out he's blind. He had that spooky white glaze over his eyes which I had seen on elderly people before but this guy was only in his early fifties max. And if that wasn't bad enough his wife comes walking up behind him and turns out she's got the white glaze over one eye and the other one's normal. So now I'm feeling like a lowlife and of course I don't tell them the real reason I came over. I lie and say I just wanted to wish them a Merry Christmas and blah blah blah and we get to chit chatting about this and that and eventually the subject of their Christmas decorations comes up. They ask me what I think and I start to say something polite because they're actually nice people but before I say anything the wife jumps in and tells me they've been putting up these decorations the last three years for their granddaughter who's nine.

Four years ago the two of them were in a really bad car accident. They nearly died. Lost most of their vision, etc. The driver of the car—their son and father of their granddaughter—he didn't make it. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. And it happened on Christmas Eve. So this little girl woke up Christmas morning four years ago at five years old thinking she was going to open presents from Santa but instead finds out Daddy's not coming home anymore. (At this point I'm feeling like a total loser by the way.) Long story short, the granddaughter and daughter-in-law spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my neighbors now and since it's such a traumatic time for all of them but especially the little girl they use all the lights and music and inflatable characters as a way to make it somewhat norm— All right, that's total bullshit. They're not blind and they don't have a granddaughter. They're just obnoxious consumer-trons with a $700 power bill. I don't know where I was going with that.

But I do love them because they give me something to bitch about, and that's the best present of all. Plus they still haven't figured out who keeps egging Frosty in the nads.

Anyway Merry/Happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/New Year's/Etc.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Great Summation

By one of the good guys.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Signs Of The Apocalypse #2

I don’t know what’s more amazing: that it took me so long to find Sign #2, or the fact I actually remembered I’d started this series. For those of you who’ve failed to keep your Signs of the Apocalypse Tracking Chart up-to-date, Sign #1, brought to your attention way back in June, was Pringles In A Bag. Today’s sign, I’m afraid, is much more ominous.

Last evening the plan was simple. After work I was to meet my wife and kids at the m— the m—m—m… the m—m—mahh… mmmaaahhhh… the mall [shudder] so the kids could talk to a stranger who was pretending to be the real live version of a myth, aka Santa. I had to work a little late, but that was no problem says my wife on the phone because the sign said Santa was “feeding his reindeer” until six o’clock. Probably more like “spanking his bald-headed little helper” or “snorting his speedball” I say, but this is exactly the kind of thing she doesn’t want to hear so I apologize by letting her hang up on me.

Anyway, I battle the traffic and the parking lot and I’m finally walking through Macy’s or Penny’s or whatever the fuck place hasn’t gone out of business yet when what to my wondering eyes should appear? A goddamn dog. Yes, a dog. In the middle of the store. It was attached to a leash, which was in turn attached to some dude who was neither a cop nor a blind guy. The two of them were being led through the perfume department by a twenty-something woman who was clearly in charge. Less than five minutes had passed since I parked the truck and already I’m irritated because 1) I’m in the friggin mall and 2) there’s a schmuck walking his retriever through it. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for people pushing the boundaries of accepted social norms, but I draw the line when pushing the boundaries increases my chances of stepping in poo.

So I decide to follow the schmuck and his dog and their high-heeled leader to see what they’re up to, because I feel it’s my responsibility to keep tabs on the clinically stupid who bring unmuzzled animals into commercial retail space. But I didn’t get very far because as soon as I walked out of Macy’s and into the mall I was distracted by a small yappy dog barking in front of the Hello Kitty Store. At this point I stopped short, and had this been a scene in a movie, the camera would’ve panned around me 360, two or three times, background a blur, as I slowly realized the whole fucking place was filled with dogs!

I glance down at my hands to make sure they’re still hands and not paws, just in case I’ve slipped through some weird dog dimension portal and turned into a dog too, or maybe I’ve crashed on the interstate and this is really all a dream I’m having while my comatose body is laid up in ICU. But it’s cool. I’ve still got hands. So I use them to do the only thing left to do. I call my wife.

“Honey, there’s a bunch of fucking dogs waiting in line to see Santa.”

“Yes, I know.”

“No, no. I said dogs. Big ears and paws and shit.”

“Yeah, we’re in line too.”


“To your left.”

I turn and there is my wife and our three children patiently waiting in line for Santa. Behind a poodle.

I hate waiting in annoying lines. Traffic, theme parks, checking out at Wal-Mart because they won’t open a third register. I won’t do it. Santa I will wait in line for. BUT I also have strict criteria regarding who I will wait in line with. It’s a simple test: In the event of a catastrophic collapse of civilization, would I willingly kill anything in this line and eat it for sustenance? If the answer is yes, I don’t wait in line with it. Obviously dogs fall into this category, as do obnoxious tourists from Scarsdale, but that’s another subject entirely.

“The hell’s going on?” I say.

“It’s pet night,” says my wife.

“Pet? Night?! You gotta be shitting me. The end is nigh.”

I look at the kids. Our nine year-old son—who I know has figured the whole Santa thing out but refuses to tell us, and my wife refuses to let me question him on the subject—is laughing at the dogs smelling each other’s butts. Our two year-old daughter is sitting quietly in the stroller. But our seven year-old daughter, who is the middle child and therefore has the shortest fuse of the bunch, has her arms spread wide and her face contorted in Exaggerated Disbelief.

What are they thinking?!” she says. “Do they think dogs can tell Santa what they want for Christmas?!”

“They probably do, sweetie.”


And here I had a moment of clarity: It’s one thing to lie to your kids about a jolly fat man because of tradition and magical childhood memories and whatnot, but it’s never acceptable to lie to them in order to politely excuse the behavior of idiots. “Some people are idiots,” I say. “They’re easily swayed by peer pressure and mass market media and have convinced themselves they need a twenty dollar picture of their pet defecating on Santa."

My wife gives me one of her Looks Of Death, because I’m using my Unnecessarily Loud Voice. My daughter, who wasn’t even listening to me, points to the poodle in front of us and says, “What in the world does that dog want for Christmas?!”

Now we’re feeding off each other, my daughter and I, so I say, “From the looks of it, a parvo vaccina—.”

My wife elbows me in the ribs because she thinks that’s where the switch is.

“This is an hour line at least,” I say. “With dogs. Santa isn’t even back yet. He’s still waxing his—” Elbow to the stomach.

A quick survey says the two oldest are cool with coming back another time. “You tell her,” says my wife nodding toward our two year-old. “She’s been so excited all day. She’s done nothing but talk about Santa.”

No problem. Little one is scared to death of big noisy dogs. I lean down to begin my appeal and I see the reason she’s been so quiet. Her hands are clenched into fists, her eyes wide and fixed on the golden retriever behind us. As if on cue it lunges at the poodle in front of us and the barking begins. Two year-old grabs onto me and I lift her out of the stroller. "We're outta here," I say. "You fucking people are insane."

My wife doesn't elbow me. Instead she rams the stroller into dog owner ankles and offers sarcastic apologies to them as they scramble to control their pets.

This ridiculousness will end tragically one day when a kid gets his or her ear bitten off. It won't be my kid though.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Silly Romans

Found this via Holly Lisle.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Songs Of The Season

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Those Germans screwed you over
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

Murdered from Spain to Dover
If you had legs you’d run and hide
But since you don’t it’s timbercide
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Disguise yourself with clover.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
It pains me so to do this
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
The kids want you this Christmas
You’ll give us hope as best you can
Then we’ll give you to the garbage man
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Your roots I hope you won’t miss.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
I hate to be a killjoy
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Our angel's not your sex toy
She’s shining bright; she’s standing fast
Your highest branch is up her ass
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

We thought you were a good boy.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
I hoped to stem disaster
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
My anger's rising faster
We gave you lights and bells for free
Then you dripped sap on my new Wii
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
You ungrateful bastard.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
We should have picked another
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
You, I'm about to smother
You wilted fast and turned real brown
But did you have to burn our house down?
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Next year we’ll kill your mother.