27 June 2006

Cracks in the Pot With Age - This Morning's Reading of the Paper

Okay, so maybe that headline is a bit of a stretch, but I'm beginning to see why becoming something of a crackpot seems to be one of the perogatives, if not requisites, of age. I turned 54 a week ago and have already written two letters to public officials. Emails really, is that somehow less crackpotish than snail mail?

With the years has come some knowledge, experience and an apparent increasing level of crankiness. All that turns many a morning into a roller coaster ride, prodded along by reading the newspaper. Here's what this morning's L.A. Times did to me emotionally:

Column One: "Fond Computer Memories." Ah, a bit of nostalgia. I never had a Commodore computer of my own, but I used one. I remember the very primitive computer in the basement of the library at my college and then my first computer, the one with two 5-1/2 inch floppy drives and no hard drive. I fondly recall XyWrite, my all time favorite word processing program, now long gone.

Just below it: "Study Links Male Gays, Birth of Older Brothers." Yet another study linking biology and sexual preference. On the one hand that's always welcome; it's a whole lot harder to discriminate against someone because of their biology than their choices. On the other, why should anybody care whether it's nature or nurture? Who someone has consensual sex with, and how, ought to be a mere personal matter and of no interest to anyone else than the people having sex. So this story has some ups and downs for me. I'm pleased this study might make it harder to discriminate against gay people. I'm displeased that it should matter in the first place.

"Private Philanthropy Shifts Outlook of Governments." Ah, that Warren Buffett, what a mensch. Those Gates'. It makes me proud to be using a PC. It's a shame that governments would rather spend their money killing people or giving their pals big, unnecessary development contracts while leaving so much of the good guy stuff up to private foundations, but it's very nice to see some rich people doing some very good things. I wish I was rich enough to give a bunch of it away.

"Gov. Calls for New Spending on Prisons." I'm sorry, but FUCK YOU ARNIE! Go back to making movies. I liked the Terminator flicks. Hell, I even have a soft spot for Kindergarten Cop. (I don't know what's wrong with me.)

Don't worry, I'm not going to go through the paper story by story. Those were my highlights on the front page. There were a few other thrills elsewhere:

Page A8, "Coffee May Cut Diabetes Risk." Oh boy, I love coffee. Think I'll make another double espresso.

A14, "Supreme Court Rejects Campaign Finance Limits." I don't know enough about this particular law to know enough about the decision, but these days I'm skeptical of nearly anything the court does. And campaign financing is one of the most important issues we've got and something needs to be done about it and soon. I can see the argument that says people ought to be able to donate as much as they want to a campaign. Then again, who was it that said something along the lines of "Freedom of the press is for those who own the presses." Well, it ought to be for the rest of us too.

Poor Bruno the Rambling Wild Bear. I'm always comforted, just a little, when I read about Europeans doing stupid things too. It isn't just us Yanks! I feel less alone.

"Insurgents Planted Bomb With Bodies." Of course they did. Why wouldn't they? It's a war isn't it? I feel terrible for the soldiers who were killed, for their families, for the other soldiers - on both sides, they're all just pawns in someone else's fucked up game - for the Iraqis and for us in the U.S. who are having a big chunk of our country's future hocked to pay for all this bullshit.

Dodgers lost, stockmarket was sort of up, sort of down, I didn't bother reading about the new Superman movie, I probably won't go see it anyhow.

Okay, so now let's skip over the rest of my newspaper reading for the morning and get to the part that got me all riled up, caused me to write a letter to a public official and set off this blog entry.

The middle edtitorial, "The case for flag-burning." Yet again, what the hell is wrong with California Senator Diane Feinstein? Is she trying to make it so that I can't even hold my nose long enough to vote for her in November. She supports the constitutional amendment that would, in effect, ban flag burning. Is she insane? This is another good example of why it makes no sense to simply support one party or the other no matter what. There are plenty of fucked up Democrats out there too. (The governor of Louisiana for example.) The L.A. Times editorial made the case against the amendment very well. Here's what I've got to say:


Here's what I wrote to that cretin Diane Feinstein. I don't know how I managed to remain polite.

Dear Senator Feinstein,

I implore you to reconsider your suppoort of the so-called Flag Burning Amendment. The idea that burning the national symbol in protest is tolerated, speaks far louder to what makes this country great than the symbol itself. At a time when so much of what America stands for is under threat by its own administration, amending the constitution in a manner that will even slightly open the door wider to those threats is a very grave mistake.

Earlier in the week, my other letter went to Tom LaBonge, the city councilman for my district. That letter was in opposition to the new city law that will force catering trucks - mostly taco trucks - to move every hour to a new location at least a half mile away. Here's what that letter had to say:

Hi Tom,

As your neighbor, a second-generation native of Los Angeles and a long time afficianado of eating at taco trucks, (a habit I learned from my mother), I am displeased with the city ordinance regarding food trucks that is scheduled to become law in July. I have long felt that taco trucks provide a real service to working class communities around town - as well as to their fans such as myself. The people who enjoy eating at them need to know where to find them and when, or they can't adequately provide that service. I have seldom, if ever, seen taco trucks parked in residential areas or any other sort of place where they were causing any nuisance. The only objections I have ever heard to them have been voiced by brick and mortar restaurants who were unhappy with the competition.

But then, isn't competition what business here is supposed to be all about? Making the trucks move every hour strikes me as unfair restraint of trade, and likely to put a lot of the trucks out of business. If that happens, where are Eva and I and our friends going to find good al pastor? Tijuana is a long way to drive for a good taco.

So, here's an email from at least one constituent asking you to help stop the impending ordinance.

That's this morning's roller coaster. I think I'll have to make another cup of espresso and settle down. At least that will help stave off diabetes.

Update at 4pm Pacific Time
The onerous flag burning amendment lost by one vote, no thanks to the equally onerous Senator Diane Feinstein (Democrat - California) who voted in favor of it. Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky and the senate deputy majority leader, who I normally have little truck with, was one of three Republicans who voted against the amendment on the grounds that protecting the first amendment was more important than protecting the flag. Good for him. So at least this stupidity is tabled for another year or two until the next election year.

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