Friday, November 20, 2009

Hatters Gotta Hat

I just got a comment on an old blog post. I wrote a smart-alecky post about some clown driving around with a "Hustler" bumper sticker. The commenter wrote - and let me quote here -

Don't be a hatter

A hatter? I'm not supposed to be a hatter? I thought he was making some kind of tricky allusion to "Alice in Wonderland," and then I realized what he was saying. He misspelled "hater."

So I'm not supposed to be a hater. This word gets thrown around all the time - don't be a hater, don't hate, why you gotta hate on blah blah blobbity blah. If you don't like a tv show, you're a hater. If you don't like a song by Katy Perry, you're hating on her. If you don't like someone's outfit, someone's music, someone's style, a book, a movie, a car, what-the-fuck-ever, you're a hater.

Well, okay then. Screw it. I'm a hater.

I hate dumbass people who drive around with "Hustler" bumper stickers, because Hustler was a sleazy porno mag long before it was some kind of euphemism for "hard-working entrepreneur." Anyone stupid enough to wear a "Hustler" bumper sticker is not a hustler, they're probably just some douchebag who picked up the bumper sticker while they were picking up their Recommended Daily Allowance of Cheetos and beer at the local Circle K. If you're a hustler, you don't have to say it. People know.

While we're at it, I hate the term "hustler" in general. The term got popular because of hip hop songs as a way of saying "someone doing whatever they need to do to survive." Most of the time, that means - at least, in the songs' worldview - selling drugs, doing petty crime, robberies, pimping, etc. That's what a hustler means.

I don't want to be a hustler. I want to be someone who works hard. I don't call myself a hustler, and I sure as fuck don't call myself a pimp.

I hate that "pimp" has become a compliment. Pimps are criminals. Pimps are not to be looked up to. And I'm going to just guess here, but I'd bet 99.9% of the people who call themselves pimps (read: white kids who listen to rap) have even never seen a pimp outside of a music video or a movie screen.

Other Things to Hate:

I hate stupidity.

I hate that I get breaking news alerts about people whose only fame comes from being in a reality show.

I hate bad grammar. Even on Twitter. Even on Facebook. Hate it.

I hate people who don't take the time to proofread a four-word post.

I hate. I'm a hater. Everyone hates something, and that doesn't make you a hater. It makes you human.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This Time, For Real

I weigh more than I've ever weighed in my life. I can no longer accept this. I've got to get serious about losing weight.

I've made some half-hearted, haphazard attempts to lose weight in the past. I've never taken it seriously before. Not really.

I exercise, when I think of it. We own an elliptical machine, so I don't even to go down to a health club to exercise. But I only use it about once a week. Twice a week, on a good week. When I feel like it. When it doesn't feel like too much of a hassle to get up off the couch.

I've pretended to watch my portions before, but not really. I'll skimp at lunch, only to serve myself an extra scoop of ice cream on dessert. I'll open a bag of tortilla chips and just eat handful after handful, not even thinking about how many calories I'm cramming in my mouth. One handful just leads to another, and then another.

I eat seconds for dinner, just about every night. I finish the leftovers on Oliver's plate. If there's an extra spoonful of mashed potatoes in the pan, I'll finish it off.

I went to the doctor last week for a freak injury. They took my weight, and I discovered I'm twenty pounds heavier than what's listed on my driver's license.

I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect that. I thought I'd been watching what I eat. I thought I was doing all right. I was wrong.

And the thing is, I knew it. I'd been denying the truth even as it stared me straight in the face. I've gained weight around my waist. A noticeable amount of weight. I can't fit into pants I wore a year ago. I had to buy new pants in a larger size when I went back to work in August. There are few things more humiliating than realizing, while buying pants, that you are no longer the size that you thought you were.

I have more asthma flareups now. There's a connection. I'm carrying too much weight. I'm having pain in my feet now. There might be a connection there, too.

I can't chase Oliver around the park for ten minutes without getting winded. I HATE that.

So I'm getting serious now. I'm using a program on my iPod touch called LoseIt! to track my daily calories and what I'm burning from exercise. (That has been a fascinating and humbling experience. More on that soon.)

I've worked out on the elliptical twice in the last three days. I started a small additional exercise routine - situps and pushups every morning. Right now, it's only ten of each, and I'm sure that I look awful doing them. But it's something. It's a start.

I want to lose thirty pounds by next summer. I'm not going to post my weight here, in order to preserve a bit of my dignity. But that's my goal. Thirty pounds, a pound a week. (And no, I don't own a scale. I'll take care of that soon.)

I'll keep you posted as to my progress on this blog. If I go more than a week without talking about it, remind me. This is serious this time. I have to get myself down to a dignified weight. I have to do this, for my sake, for my health, for Oliver and for Mrs. B. I have to do this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Smoking Gun

Guy shoots up Fort Hood in Texas. Kills 13, wounds 30 more. How could we have possibly prevented this? Was it caused by depression? Anti-military fervor? He's a Muslim - was he a terrorist? (You know how those people are.)

How could we have stopped this?

The next day, a shooting in Florida. One dead, five injured in a highrise building. Oh, but this is totally unrelated to the Texas shootings. That was a military base, this was in a place of business. No connection whatsoever.

Last week, a police officer was shot and killed here in Seattle, shot in his own police car. But undoubtedly, it was unrelated to the other shootings. Different place, different motive. No connection whatsoever.

Yesterday, there was a shooting in the town where my wife works. Attempted murder-suicide, according to news reports. But of course, that had nothing at all to with the other shootings. No connection whatsoever.

Tonight, a man will be executed for committing a series of high-profile shootings in the Washington D.C. area. Any connection to the other crimes? Oh no, of course not. This was a serial killer, a psychopath, totally unpredictable. His crime was an aberration.

There's no connection at all.


Here's the pattern that I see. Shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting, and another shooting. The connection is guns. The connection is unmistakeable, unavoidable, and undeniable.

On the day that the Fort Hood shooting occurred, dozens of other shootings also happened and most of them never even made the news. Shootings in this country are an epidemic, and we're so inured to them that all we do is shake our heads when another one happens. What a shame, we say. Another senseless crime. Another unstoppable crime. We throw up our hands - what can you do?

Here's what you can do. You can call your member of Congress, call your city council, call your town's mayor. Ask them what they're doing to reduce gun violence, and make them get specific. Call the president and tell him to make gun violence a priority.

What can we do about it? Support sensible gun laws in your state and in federal law, like closing the gun show loophole.

What can we do? Support local organizations that are fighting the scourge of guns (we have a great local organization called Washington Ceasefire), or support the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Don't just turn your head. One hundred thousand people are shot in this country each year, and over ten thousand people every year die from gun violence. Our children, our neighbors, our families are all suffering from this plague. According to the Center for Disease Control's Leading Causes of Death Reports, from age birth until age 65 firearms are consistently among the top ten leading causes of death in our communities. And among our young people aged 15-24 firearms rank in the top three leading causes of death. Firearms take twice as many lives as AIDS does each year. (Thanks to the Brady Campaign and Washington CeaseFire for the statistics.)

These are preventable crimes, but we have to be brave enough to fight in order to prevent them.

Friday, November 06, 2009


“This is an investigation of everything — Acorn, the national organization, the local organization and all of its affiliated entities,” said David Caldwell, an assistant attorney general.

ACORN's offices in Louisiana are being raided as I write this. ACORN is going up in flames, and this time, it's for the right reason.

No, I'm not talking about Encyclopedia Brown the pimp and his sorry-ass Saved by the Bell reject wannabe hooker buddy.

The videotapes are bullshit, and you can quote me on that. They're preposterous, hucksterism, pointless, juvenile. This investigation is about the epic mismanagement of a national organization. And I believe it's the right investigation, for the right reasons.

They're targeting the embezzlement of around $1 million - maybe as high as $5 million, according to reports I've read - by the brother of ACORN's founder, Wade Rathke. ACORN has had a problem for a while, apparently, and only the publicizing of the crime made it clear how completely screwed up the organization was.

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that having one guy with as much power as Wade Rathke had was a situation bound to lead to disaster. He was clearly getting involved in things without the knowledge of the board. (Why do I say that? Most of the board's members didn't even know about the embezzlement - or the secret "settlement" - until years after the fact. Years.) When all power is consolidated in the hands of one person, and when that person stops believing he has to be accountable to anyone - funders, board members, other officers - then trouble is bound to happen.

Then, just think about the fact that his brother was working high up in the organization as well, and had access to the organization's bank accounts. Recipe for disaster, I'm telling you.

ACORN's trying to set its house in order, but there have been years and years of damage that they have to undo. The embezzlement happened in 1999 and 2000. This was hidden for eight years. Now they're being investigated for tax fraud, and the investigators are also trying to determine how much money was actually embezzled. Remember, ACORN was a tax-exempt organization, run largely on individual contributions and foundation support. They were operating for the public's benefit. When you steal from a nonprofit, you are stealing from the public. In ACORN's case, Dale Rathke was effectively stealing from the very low-income families that they were trying to help.

ACORN's funding is drying up. Foundations don't want to touch them with a ten-foot pole until they can be absolutely certain that their money is going to be handled correctly. This is what should happen. This is the natural repercussion of their poor management.

And now they're being investigated by the state of Louisiana - again, not because of the pimptastic videotapes, but because of their outrageous financial mismanagement. Maybe the organization will be able to answer all of the questions and sever themselves of the taint of Rathke's leadership. Maybe they'll survive this, maybe they won't. But at least this time, the questions that are being asked are the right questions.