Last week, my seven year old laptop died. No major harm done, everything was more than adequately backed up and mostly I'd been using it for net surfing and photoshopping stuff that I didn't store on it. I spent a day trying to figure out whether or not I could salvage it: new harddrive, maybe a new screen, seemed like there was something screwy with the motherboard, two of the three USB connections had gone on the fritz.
So it was garbage. I'd got seven good years out of it, which in computer years must be something like 96 or so.
I wanted to format the harddrive so as to erase it. That's harder than it ought to be, especially if the computer came with the software installed and you don't have the installation disks. So I read up on what to do.
Formatting a harddrive doesn't do you much good anyhow. Anyone with a little determination can still mine the drive for whatever was on it. And these days, a lot of old harddrives find their way to China where there is a booming industry in recovering stuff from them and using it in various nefarious schemes.
Harddrives are tough. You could run one over with your car and it wouldn't mind that one bit. So I went at mine with a hammer, a big hammer. And even that took some doing. Now there's some suspicious sparkly stuff all over my patio, but I'm pretty sure that no one is going to get my precious data - and mostly not so precious data - off that old drive.
But then, you're not allowed to simply toss an old harddrive in the trash. That's a crime here in Los Angeles. And I can't simply toss out the old external monitor that also died at the same time. (It started looking like I think amoebic dysentery must look like under the microscope.) Same for old TVs, radios, printers, busted DVD and CD players and the like.
On weekends, the City of Los Angeles runs Electronic and Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites. So, I picked up my pal Craig, who also had stuff to dispose of, and off we went.
The closest place to my house was at a sewage reclamation plant, down the street from a strip club on the L.A. / Glendale border. I guess the odor helps get you in that haz-mat state of mind. We drove into it and were channeled into a parking area filled with large signs in English and Spanish telling us to stay in the car. A dozen or so men in white haz-mat suits swarmed the car when we came to a stop, opening the doors and the trunk, emptying it of any electric equipment and/or hazardous materials they could find.
I had a box of my books in the trunk. I considered seeing if they would take that, as it would make an excellent story if my books were taken away by guys in special protective clothing as "hazardous materials." Maybe I could even get some sort of testimonial to that, or at least a receipt. It would make for an interesting blurb on the next book. But alas, they left my books alone.
The only sensible thing to do after that was go eat Mexican food for lunch. We went to a nearby place which we like okay; the salsas are spicy and flavorful, the chips reasonably fresh, the drinks cold and the food is worth the price - which is to say it's cheap. The only drawback is that they seem to have a haunted jukebox. Twice during the course of our lunch, with no one approaching it, much less putting any money into it or pushing any buttons, the thing suddenly erupted into brutally loud, conversation-killing Ranchera music.
But when we could talk, among the things we talked about was Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. They worried my friend. He had recently, for the first time, read the collected quotes of Glen Beck or something like that, and was astounded and appalled at what he'd read.
What astounds and appalls me about dim-witted, lying fuckwits like Beck and Coulter and Hannity and Limbaugh and others of their ilk - and by way of tying this to the first part of this blog, I will refer to them as toxic waste - is that people take them seriously enough to actually try to argue with them.
You cannot use logic or rationality to argue with illogic or irrationality. It just doesn't work. And the toxic waste morons of cable TV and radio know that. They are just good at thinly disguising the fact that they are not rational human beings, so as to suck otherwise sensible people into arguing with them, arguments that, by their nature, cannot be won.
When a sleazebag, shit-for-brains, toxic monster like Glenn Beck calls Obama a racist; the best argument isn't to say "no he isn't," and then try to prove your point. It is to laugh, loud and hard and long. And then when you're done laughing, answer back with something equally preposterous: "You know, I really do think the moon is made of green cheese."
I consider myself a political independent. I do tend to vote for Democrats more often than Republicans, but I have voted for a few Republicans over the years. I very much believe in a two-party political system, in which compromises between those parties tend to steer a relatively moderate course over time. I have great respect for people of both political parties, at least the ones who have earned it through their obvious good sense and respectful, honest willingness to rationally debate real issues. if I were a Republican, I would be doing everything I could to distance myself from the toxic waste of the cable cretins. And if I were a Democrat, I'd be egging them on and laughing all the way to the polls.