You’re an idiot

The BEAST 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007

9. You

Charges: You believe in freedom of speech, until someone says something that offends you. You suddenly give a damn about border integrity, because the automated voice system at your pharmacy asked you to press 9 for Spanish. You cling to every scrap of bullshit you can find to support your ludicrous belief system, and reject all empirical evidence to the contrary. You know the difference between patriotism and nationalism — it's nationalism when foreigners do it. You hate anyone who seems smarter than you. You care more about zygotes than actual people. You love to blame people for their misfortunes, even if it means screwing yourself over. You still think Republicans favor limited government. Your knowledge of politics and government are dwarfed by your concern for Britney Spears' children. You think buying Chinese goods stimulates our economy. You think you're going to get universal health care. You tolerate the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques." You think the government is actually trying to improve education. You think watching CNN makes you smarter. You think two parties is enough. You can't spell. You think $9 trillion in debt is manageable. You believe in an afterlife for the sole reason that you don't want to die. You think lowering taxes raises revenue. You think the economy's doing well. You're an idiot.

Exhibit A: You couldn't get enough Anna Nicole Smith coverage.

Sentence: A gradual decline into abject poverty as you continue to vote against your own self-interest. Death by an easily treated disorder that your health insurance doesn't cover. You deserve it, chump.

Ouch.  Go read the rest.

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The spark in the powder keg

Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated.

Here Sir David Frost interviews Benazir Bhutto about a prior attempt on her life.  She was killed today by a suicide attacker who shot her and then blew himself up, killing at least another 14 of her supporters in the process.

The NYTimes has some updated information, as they can get it at the moment.

Condi Rice and the US State Department have been working behind-the-scenes with the former prime minister to work on a potential power-sharing arrangement with the increasingly weakened Musharrif government.  This is a spark in a powder keg that was already hot and ready to blow.

What a freakin' mess.

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Oy, what a week I’ve had (part 3)

This is part three in a series about my crazy week. Read part one here.

Onion Soup, Gremlins and Appendicitis

Sunday night, HP made me some French Onion Soup. Really good stuff. We bought the ingredients at Trader Joe's that morning. (BTW, the employee parking lot at Trader Joe's has one of the best views of the city). HP sliced a seven-inch tall pile of sliced onions he ended up cooking down and reducing into a sauce with some broth, some meat and other goodies he then threw into the crock pot. He served it in a special ramekin he bought just for the soup, with slices of toasted sour dough on top, all covered in grated gruyere. It was delicious.

We enjoyed the soup and settled in to watch some TV.

About 12:30 AM Monday morning, I started having stomach cramps. At first, I though it must be the soup. Too much onion or something. But it got worse. Really worse. Amazingly worse. Heroically worse.

Ah Jesus, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME NOW?

I drank some pepto. I laid on my tummy. I drank some water. I choked down an alka seltzer. I took some more pepto. NOTHING could dent the sensation of gremlins in my stomach ripping it apart, TEARING my stomach to SHREDS. (and not the cute mowgli gremlins either, I mean the ugly, green, scaly, mean gremlins). Cue the alien from Alien ripping out of my stomach. It was that bad.

At 1AM, I decided I needed morphine. I got dressed and took a taxi to the hospital. I didn't wake HP because I didn't want him awake with me and worried. There was no point in him sleeping in a waiting room.

After an agonizing twenty minutes in the waiting room watching a very unsympathetic Haitian shuffle my entry papers around his desk, I was finally brought in to see a nurse. Judy was her name. Very nice and helpful. Judy gave me an IV with some pain killer and anti-nausea medicine. The pain killer was "dilaudid." Never heard of it. But the feeling I got from the injection, of thousands of little weights pressing me down into the mattress, sure reminded me of the morphine I got in the hospital about ten years ago for my first kidney stone. Dilaudid. Di – laud – id. They used to sell opium under the name laudanum. Probably an opioid or maybe even morphine. Who knows. Who cares? All I knew at this point was my stomach pains were squeezed right out of me.

I wanted to go home at that point and I very well might have if the doctor, Ingrid, hadn't told me I should stay to get a cat scan to make sure it wasn't my appendix. FUCK. Appendicitis? I remember that from the Brady Bunch. (or maybe that was tonsillitis? On all the drugs, I couldn't remember anything but that rotten little Cindy eating ice cream).

So I got the cat scan and sure enough, my appendix was inflamed. When I got back to my room, the doctor was all smiles and "see? I told you so! good thing you didn't go home or that appendix might have blown up in your face!" (disclaimer: Although this is what I clearly remember, it is altogether possible she never said those exact words. I was very high on morphine.)

Turns out I needed surgery, no ifs, ands or buts. My appendix needed to come out more than Clay Aiken.

Oh, and while they were spying on my appendix they took a  look at my kidney. Turns out I have a bunch more stones hanging out in my kidney! "Stones of various sizes" all ready to pass some day soon.  Merry Christmas!

So I lay in bed all day Monday, deprived of water and food, of which they would give me none. They were even penurious about letting me suck on a piece of ice. Fuckers. Some nonsense about me throwing it up during surgery and inhaling my own vomit and dying of the worst kind of toxic pneumonia. Whatever. I WAS THIRSTY and HP was nice enough to slip me an ice cube.  Had the surgery Monday night. (by the way, going under at Kaiser is soooo easy. The Kaiser doctors are wonderful about assuaging fears and anxiety about general anesthesia. That was the scariest part of the whole ordeal—being put under.  I remember saying to the doctor that I had some anxiety. He came over to me and asked me about what, the surgery? I told him no, about being put under. He smiled and said, "oh, that's perfectly normal. You will be just fine." Hey may have patted me on the head. He smiled, I smiled, and that's all she wrote. Thanks, Kaiser!). 

I come out of it in my bed, TV on, HP by my side. He said I had been ranting about something a few minutes before. Ranting. Great. I've become Hunter S. Thompson.

Tuesday morning I am pissing into the bedpan and I feel something a little weird. I look in the bedpan and sure enough, I finally peed out the kidney stone that had been hanging out in my bladder since Friday! Yay!

Went home later that day. Was finally able to make it to the toilet unassisted by Wednesday. Today is Thursday and I am feeling well enough to type at my computer, though sitting up is kind of annoyingly painful. I've taken advantage of the wheels on my computer desk and pulled it over to my bed so I can type while laying down.  I will go on a walk around my block later today to get my strength back, per doctor's orders. And more walks tomorrow and Saturday and Sunday, maybe I'll take walks in the park.  And some stretching.

Tomorrow I see the urologist about my kidney stones.

Monday I will be back to work.

Pray for me.

—————–

This is part three in a series about my crazy week. Read part one here.  

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Oy, what a week I’ve had (part 2)

Part two in a series. Read part one here.

Saturday night at the Olympic Club

I had the honor of accompanying my friend Erin as her date to her office Christmas party at the Olympic Club club house downtown. Oh my LORD this place was fancy pants. I was wearing a new suit and I still felt under dressed. Little men and women in tuxedoes floating around the room with trays of yummy snacks or glasses of champagne. Light jazz was coming from somewhere. There was the barest hint of pipe smoke in the air.

Everything was so nice and polite and polished and elegant. I have pictures, but if you've seen the Devil's Advocate, then you already know what it looked like. It was basically the party scene and I was Charlize Theron.

Mary, Jeannie
Michelle, Tim, Erin

Dinner was fun. I was seated next to Jeannie and Peach. Jeannie had a delightfully wicked running commentary the whole night. She apologized at first, but I told her, "Darling, my motto is, 'if you have nothing nice to say, please, come sit next to me.'" We were immediate friends.

The food was absolutely top-notch. Glazed salmon, delicious potatoes, four different kinds of salad, deviled eggs (YAY!) and a chef slicing up huge chunks of fillet mignon. I had seconds of everything.

Mid-way through the party, I followed Mary's husband Tony out into the hallway. He told me he was going to go exploring the Club. I considered it for about a second and then I was right behind him. I mean, why not? I'm not a doctor or a lawyer, I'm a lowly graphic artist / web designer and as such I'll never be a member of this club. So this is probably the only time I'll ever get to see this fabulous place. 

It was so much more fabulous than I imagined.  This place was POSH!

IMG_0193IMG_0192IMG_0190IMG_0186IMG_0185IMG_0181

Later, a gaggle of us went to the Starlight lounge, just down the street and around the corner. Tacky decor, bad lighting, middle-aged guys, leisure suits, blah. not my scene. Good drinks, though. Loud. Nice place to take someone if conversation isn't something you care about. They had a singer who did a fair impression of Stevie Wonder.

I have all sorts of pictures from the night. Go check 'em out.  

 

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Oy, what a week I’ve had (part 1)

Kidney Stone Christmas Party

Friday was not quite two hours old when I awoke with a sharp pain in my stomach and back. I thought it was the paté  ate with dinner. No such luck. I realized when I went to the bathroom — and couldn't go — and then felt the pain localize into one, particular spot in my back that was most surely a kidney stone.

If you haven't had a kidney stone before, you are truly blessed. They say it's the most intense pain a man will ever go through (they say for women that it's childbirth, but some women say the kidney stones they have had have been more painful).  Kidney stones are a curse. An affliction. The surest, most excellent evidence that human beings were by no means intelligently designed by anyone with any sort of intelligence. We evolved to what we are today and the job is far from done. We homo sapiens are in transition, as we have always been. We are desperately, tragically far from perfect. Though I feel like the stones are a curse, I wouldn't wish one on my worst enemy (though I would enjoy some small bit of schadenfreuda if every creationist pimping the fantasy of Intelligent Design were suddenly afflicted).

You can read more about kidney stones here. Go on, go educate yourself. Here are some pictures (brace yourself).

So here I am, it's 1:45 on Thursday night / Friday morning. I am awake and terrified. I don't want to go through the rigmarole of the emergency room to get morphine and a sedative. But I know I can't sleep. I pace my bedroom for almost two hours before I give up, take four Advil, and lay down. I'm out like a light.

The next day I somehow manage to get to work more or less on time. I'm on another half-dozen Advil so the pain isn't debilitating. And to be honest, the only reason I am at work is because the Christmas party for the company is that night. I can't call in sick and then go to the Christmas party — I did that last year and got teased about it for months. So I bit the bullet and came in to work.

I made an interesting observation: When using painkillers to block sanity-robbing pain, the combination of numbness and discomfort is similar to the feeling I generally get walking in to work on any given day already.

About half way through our 10:30 meeting, the kidney stone completed it's journey through the ureter. I know this because the pain went from a level 9 to a level 3 (on that ten-point scale the doctor uses, where 10 is the most you can possibly feel and 1 is generally OK). That was a god damn relief, let me tell you.

A friend at work asked what it felt like. I told her it felt like someone had taken a flathead screwdriver, heated it up in a kiln until it was red hot, stabbed me in the back all the way to the hilt, and then left it there.

I left work in the afternoon to go talk to my doctor. He was nice enough. Sympathetic. A fellow sufferer of the kidney stone curse. Told me I was very lucky I pass them so quickly – most people suffer for several days, sometimes up to a week or two before they pass them. (ugh, now THAT's a freakin' curse).  Gave me a 'scrip to a nice morphine-like pill I can take if I ever get another one. I have no love for opioids, so the pills will probably expire before I take one, but that's the point – I have it if I need it.

Got home, took a long shower and got ready for the company Christmas party, a delightful affair at the Equinox at the San Francisco Hyatt.

Alex and I looked great. We were almost too gay in our matching suits, red ties, and pocket squares. I won one of the raffle prizes, an interactive, intelligent R2D2. The food was good and it was nice to see everyone from work in a non-work environment.

I may bag on work from time to time, but in all honesty, the people I work with now are the best people I've ever worked with in my life. It's been nearly five years I've been with this company, a lifetime in the tech industry, and I've enjoyed most of it.

 By the end of the night, I had had so much fun I forgot about the kidney stone.

Oy, what a week I've had (part 2).

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How we lost the drug war

Great new read by Ben Wallace-Wells in this month’s Rolling Stone that exposes how the $500 Billion spent on the Drug War over the last 35 years has been all but a complete waste of time and money, and an absolute failure by any standard of measure.

[A]fter U.S. drug agents began systematically busting up the Colombian cartels – doubt was replaced with hard data. Thanks to new research, U.S. policy-makers knew with increasing certainty what would work and what wouldn’t. The tragedy of the War on Drugs is that this knowledge hasn’t been heeded. We continue to treat marijuana as a major threat to public health, even though we know it isn’t. We continue to lock up generations of teenage drug dealers, even though we know imprisonment does little to reduce the amount of drugs sold on the street. And we continue to spend billions to fight drugs abroad, even though we know that military efforts are an ineffective way to cut the supply of narcotics in America or raise the price.

All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs – with very little to show for it. […]

Even by conservative estimates, the War on Drugs now costs the United States $50 billion each year and has overcrowded prisons to the breaking point – all with little discernible impact on the drug trade. …(read on)

That is a truly one great article every policy maker should have to read. I can’t ever read a word on this topic without remembering how Col Oliver North was involved in smuggling cocaine into the U.S. under Reagan, circumventing Congress to pay for an illegal proxy war, which coincided with the birth of the crack epidemic at the very same time the President had declared a ‘War on Drugs’ (Remember Nancy’s ‘Just Say No‘?) and the great expansion in the building of prisons and increasing sentences that has resulted in the disenfranchisement of generations of disproportionately black would-be voters to this very day. But of course all that was just another unintended but electorally significant consequence of Ronald Reagan’s.

H/T C&L

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