Don't Worry, Comrades! Central Planning Is Watching Out For You!

Did you see that apparently President Obama wants Chevrolet to kill the Volt program?! Holy crap! I want an electric car so that I don't have to use gasoline purchased from countries that hate us. And Obama wants to kill the GM program that could produce one domestically? Stupid! Yeah, don't give me a domestic option and make me buy one from Toyota or Volkswagen or Hyundai when they bring one to the market.

Not to mention that they will be directed to cut the number of trucks and SUVs they produce and make more small cars instead, solely for political reasons, according to what I just saw on Fox News. Yes, Obama and Crew are going to be issuing production orders for GM and Chrysler. How idiotic is that? As one column I read earlier today said, these are the people who can't even do the switch to digital TV properly and now we're going to put them in charge of central planning for the U.S. domestic auto industry? Joy. They'll give us a car with four left doors.

Wanna see what's in your future, comrades?

And it will only cost you 25,000 rubles dollars and the Party will deliver it to you in two years. Sorry, comrades, there's a waiting list. Unless you're someone like Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank or Chris Dodd, of course. They'll be getting their Lada limousines immediately instead of the Trabant, though. Waiting, like paying taxes, is for the little people.


The Agreeable Mirror

When I was a kid, we went to a carnival where there was a funhouse. Inside, there were warped mirrors that distorted the viewer's image, turning an average person into a fat dwarf or a skinny beanpole, as well as twisting the facial features into a caricature. Last year, during the presidential primary season, we encountered something that was exactly the opposite. When candidate Barack Obama appeared on the scene, many people observed that his lack of a substantial resume made him a blank slate upon which people could project their hopes and dreams.

However, after some contemplation, I think it would be more accurate to say that candidate Obama was the reverse of those funhouse mirrors: When people looked into the Obama mirror, not only did it make them look taller, take off those extra ten pounds they were carrying around, smooth out their wrinkles and clear up their acne, but it also made them cooler, because when they looked in the mirror, they didn't just see themselves. They saw themselves with The One, arm in arm, hanging out with the cool black friend that they never had. They were ready to do their part to expiate the sins of white racism in America. 'Hope' and 'Change' sounded good, so it didn't really matter what exactly they meant. Right?

It is a fact of human nature that we tend to like people who agree with us about things more than we do those people who don't agree with us. In fact, in English, the word "disagreeable" is a synonym for "unpleasant." We know, of course, that we are intelligent and wise and have all of the correct positions on every issue, while those who disagree with us are not and do not. This is why their very presence is disagreeable to us.

So if we are told that a person is seven different kinds of wonderful, but with not much in the way of specifics, then if we have to fill in the blanks using only that information, we would have to think that he must agree with us on most matters of substance. We are good, so if he is good, too, then he must think like we do. This is what happened to the people who looked in Obama's agreeable mirror: "He's such a wonderful guy! I know all his campaign talks about is generic 'hope' and 'change', but I'm sure he agrees with me about everything!"

This is how each of the various constituencies of the Democrat party could think that President Obama was in full agreement with them about all of their personal pet issues. This is how Independents and even some liberal Republicans who couldn't stomach voting for John McCain could rationalize that President Obama would probably govern as a moderate, because that is what they personally would do were they in his shoes. They looked into the agreeable mirror and said, "Well, how much different could his views be from mine, if he's so agreeable?"

Obama was able to do this because he had served for less than one term as a U.S. Senator, and had spent much of it running for President. Senators often have trouble getting a presidential nomination because they have a long legislative record, votes for and against various issues, and they are known quantities. Obama, however, had not been around long enough to do so, and therefore was that 'blank slate' that the pundits talked about. He could be anything that you wanted him to be, at least until January 20th, when he had to start governing and actually making decisions.

And it was at that point that many people who had looked in the agreeable mirror months earlier suddenly realized that they no longer recognized the other fellow staring back at them. "This is not the Barack Obama I knew!" they cried, as he spent trillions of dollars bailing out Wall Street. Who could have guessed that all of the talk about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle to Republicans was all just smoke and, well, mirrors? Who would have thought that he would appoint hard-left ideologues and govern from the left rather than from the center?

Well, just about anyone who didn't depend on the mainstream media for their information. Anyone who listened to talk radio or watched Fox News had a much better idea of who Barack Obama was: The Democrat with the most liberal voting record in the Senate, such as it was; a man imbued with liberal values by his family; and a man with many friends and associates who espoused very radical left-wing views. We can always hope that the leopard will change his spots, but it's not particularly likely.



Yes, I've been neglecting you, dear readers. I must apologize. Between a nice vacation with family a couple of weeks ago and a couple of weeks of general indolence, it has not been a productive month here at Recycled Sip. This doesn't mean that I haven't been contemplating things to write about, it just means that I haven't taken the time to put pixels to screen.

I had a nice lengthy piece to write about how people who voted for him are beginning to realize that President Obama isn't who they thought he was, but really, you can read the same thing all over the internet. I may post it anyway, eventually, perhaps over the weekend. The problem is that I do some of my best thinking at work, where I don't have access to a computer keyboard. By the time I get home, I tend to lose focus.

I just watched country singer John Rich on the Glen Beck show, singing his new song "Shutting Detroit Down." It has a very powerful message. I happened to hear it the other night on the local Americana/bluegrass/country radio program that I listen to on the way to work on Sunday nights. And yes, normally I'm asleep right now, but the inconsiderate yahoo across the street was blat-blat-blatting his noisy ATV around 4:30 and woke me up. The only silver lining if Obama wrecks the economy and drives the cost of gasoline back up over $4.00 a gallon would be that the yahoos might not be able to afford to play with their noisy, obnoxious toys.



Hey, remember that stimulus bill that Congress rammed through in the dead of night, without taking the time to read it? Well, it turns out that that same bill specifically authorized those controversial bonuses to AIG executives. And now Congress is on its high horse, calling the AIG CEO on the carpet this morning, and pontificating about how they are so outraged by the bonuses and threatening to implement a special 100% tax on those bonuses to get the money back, even though that would almost certainly be unconstitutional.

Well, in tech support there's a phrase commonly used when someone asks a stupid question because they haven't read the documentation: RTFM: Read The F'ing Manual. And the corollary for Congress is quite simple: RTFB: Read The F'ing Bill! If our elected "public servants" (ha!) had taken the time to actually read the bill, they might have realized that this little ticking public relations time bomb was in it. This raises the question: What other stink bombs are waiting to detonate? Well, however many it may be, it couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch. The very same crooked congress-critters that are screeching the loudest are the exact same ones who were responsible for oversight of our financial system and who also received large campaign contributions from those same companies they voted to bail out later. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) was the largest recipient of campaign contributions from AIG, netting over $100,000 from them. So if you hear someone like Dodd bleating about his outrage, it's okay to yell at the television and tell him to STFU, using the full phrase in all its F-word glory. Trust me, I already have.



My brother Karl was down here last week, and he brought quite of few pictures on his laptop computer, since he had bought one of those electronic picture frames for my father and was going to copy all of the pictures to the memory card that goes in the frame. Among the pictures were some from several years ago when Karl visited Athens, including some taking in front of the Acropolis. It reminded me of my visit to Rome back in the 1980s, and walking through the ruins of the Forum and other ancient Roman sites like Pompeii.

At the time, I wondered what it would be like to visit America's cities in a thousand years or so and see what the ruins of our civilization might look like. I also wondered how humbling it must feel to live in the long shadows of ancestors who were far more powerful than their descendants. Greece and Italy are fairly unimportant countries in the modern scheme of things, compared to the empires that their forefathers held across the Mediterranean Sea and beyond; they're the equivalent of small children playing dress-up who appear to be swallowed up in adult-sized clothes.

Well, we no longer have to wait a millennium to find out. There's a photo essay at Time magazine's web site by French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, titled Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline. It's a saddening portrait of forgotten places in a once-great city that is slowly crumbling into ruins. There are probably pockets of rot like this in just about every major city in America, but they're far more pervasive in the Motor City.

The photographers write:
"Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes...the volatile result of the change of eras and the fall of empires. This fragility leads us to watch them one very last time: to be dismayed, or to admire, it makes us wonder about the permanence of things."
To paraphrase Shelley, "My name is Henry Ford, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair..."


Lonelier Than the Maytag Repairman

[Phones ringing]

"Treasury, Timothy Geithner, please hold."

"Treasury, Timothy Geithner, please hold."

"Treasury, Timothy Geithner, please hold."

"Treasury, Timothy Geithner, please hold."

"Treasury, Timothy Geithner, please hold."

"Treasury, Timothy Geithner, please hold."

"Treasury, Timothy Geithner, please hold."

"Treasury, Timothy Geithner, please hold."

"Hello, this is Timothy Geithner, thank you for holding, how may I help you? Oh, hello, Congressman. You need someone from Treasury for a Banking Committee hearing? I'm sorry, Congressman, but right now, I'm the only one here and someone has to answer the phone. But I'll send someone over just as soon as we get someone through the vetting process. Thanks, Congressman, goodbye."

"Hello, this is Timothy Geithner, thank you for holding, how may I help you? Oh, good morning, Mr. President. Yes, I'm working on that list of appointees, but we keep having problems with, um, people not being fully forthcoming on all of their taxes... Uh, yes, sir, that does seem to be going around, doesn't it? No, sir, none of these jobs are as easy as we thought they were. I'll keep at it, sir. Maybe I can get a deputy secretary or two in the next week or so. It's not like the economy's really doing anything right now, so it doesn't matter too much, right? Thank you, sir, goodbye."

"Hello, this is Timothy Geithner, thank you for holding, how may I help you? Oh, good morning, Senator... The banking bailout plan? Well, sir, that's something that one of my deputy treasury secretaries would be working on, if I could ever get one confirmed. We had two drop out just the other day.

"I don't understand it, Senator: We have this exciting new administration, all of this hope and change, and all of the brightest and best seem to be taking one look at the problems we're facing and deciding that they'd rather stay in the private sector... Yes, Senator, very discouraging. Thank you, Senator, goodbye."

"Hello, this is Timothy Geithner, thank you for holding, how may I help you? New York Times? Oh, things are going great here at Treasury, just great! Couldn't be better!"

[Puts phone aside, fakes another voice]

Fake voice: "Mr. Geithner, we have the President on the other line."

"Oh, sorry, I'm going to have to go now, but we'll get back to you real soon. 'Bye!"

Happy Birthday, Barbie!

It was 50 years ago today that the Barbie doll made its debut at the New York Toy Show. The favorite doll of many little girls for the past half century is also a favorite of collectors. BBC News has an article about a woman in Germany who has over 6,000 of the dolls, basically filling her entire house with them. Needless to say, her 17-year-old daughter isn't as enthused as her mother is:
As Bettina enthuses, there is a passive indifference from her 17-year old-daughter, Melissa.

Like most young girls, she liked Barbie once. And like most young girls, she grew out of it.

But given the scale of her mum's collection, she is beyond being embarrassed and discreetly heads to her room with a friend.

Well, all teenagers are embarrassed by their parents, but I'd say that Melissa has more reason to be than many.

Growing up in a household that only had boys, we didn't have Barbie dolls. We had G.I. Joes, back in the day when G.I. Joe was the same height as a Barbie doll, before they shrank them down. The military action figures (NOT dolls!) didn't have flowing locks like Barbie; their hair was plastic, or else some kind of short fuzz. And of course, they had cool stuff like guns and grenades. We also had the Major Matt Mason ("Mattel's Man In Space!") action figures. This was back in the late 1960s, of course, when every kid wanted to be an astronaut.

So are Barbie dolls bad for fostering an unreasonable body image to young girls or are they good for allowing Barbie to have 108 different careers and showing those same young girls that many different career paths are open to them besides homemaker? (We won't go into Barbie's mid-life crisis back in 2004 when she threw poor Ken over for the Australian pool boy.)


My Tuesday Rant

I sent this to a friend yesterday in order to vent. I felt a tiny bit better afterward, but only a tiny bit:

Well, Monday was one hell of an expensive day for me. In the time between putting in the order on Friday night to move all of my retirement funds to the G fund, and the time it became effective Monday, my funds dropped another $3,000, pushing my losses to around 30% of what I had in January 2008. Needless to say, I'm not happy at all. I'm kicking myself for not doing this back in November. I'd still have a lot more of my hard-earned money than I do now.

Right now, I see the economy (and the stock market, which is shorthand for the economy as a whole) looking a lot like one of those rollercoasters that went from the ground all the way to the top, way up high, and now it's plunging down, down, down. We've got our hands up, the air's rushing past us, we're all screaming, and now we can see that the rollercoaster isn't going to stop at ground level, but it's plunging into a dark hole in the ground. How far down does it go? Hell if I know, I just want to get off this goddamn thing. But we're strapped in tight, and now we're screaming in the darkness...

My mistake was being much too optimistic about the economy being able to come back any time soon. I should have realized how the market was going to react to someone who it perceives (correctly) as being anti-business. Obama and crew talk about soaking the rich, but it's middle-class people like me whose retirement funds are melting away like snow in July. In Obama's America, everyone will be equal: Those who have retirement accounts will be no better off than those who don't.

And frankly, I'm not sure it's worth it to save money any more, because with the coming inflation, money saved will be worth less than it was. Might as well live like a grasshopper and spend every dime, then ask the government to bail us out when we run out of money. That seems to be the way things work in America these days. If you're an ant, saving for tomorrow and paying your bills responsibly, you're a sucker. I've got to figure out something to invest in as a hedge against inflation. Maybe guns and ammo. I'm not a firearms enthusiast like some of the guys at work, but maybe it's time to become one... :-(


"He Won The Bet"

That's what will probably end up on the tombstone of the late Sergey Tuganov (Yes, that's really his name! I'm not making that up!) who collapsed and died after a 12-hour marathon threesome, during which he consumed an entire bottle of Viagra. The maximum safe dosage is 100 mg, according to the doctor on the Fox News Channel, which is either one or two pills.

It seems that the 28-year-old man had a $4300 bet with the two women about whether he could keep them satisfied non-stop for the entire twelve hours. Tuganov won the bet, but had a heart attack and died minutes later; it was the ultimate Pyrrhic phallic victory.

I'm sure that well over 90% of the world's men would like to go out that way, although certainly at a more advanced age. Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse? No, I want to look like Keith Richards and exit the stage as a centenarian.

That all begs the question: How the hell are they going to get the casket closed?

UPDATE: The comments at Fark.com (where Tuganov is referred to as "a modern day John Henry", among other things) are priceless.

I was particularly amused by this one, by a commenter named Tortilla Burger:
Today we salute you, Mr. Sex Mad Viagra Orgy Man.
(Mr. Sex Mad Viagra Orgy Man)
Some men are finished in two minutes and promptly fall asleep afterwards.
But you guzzled a bottle of Viagra and kept it going for 12 straight hours.
(Two women at the same time!)
There's no better way to leave this Earth than after a half-day threeway sexathon.
(Damn my hips are tired)
Perhaps you'd have lived if you gave up after the first 6 hours, but sometimes a man's got to stand by his principles.
(Other things are standing too)
So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light, O Beast With Three Backs. Let's face it, there's nothing you could do to top this anyway.
(Mr. Sex Mad Viagra Orgy Man)

Worst Idea of the Week

They had to go a long way to beat out President Obama's bloated multi-trillion dollar spending orgy budget, but the adult film company Vivid managed to come up with a worse idea: They offered "Octomom" Nadya Suleman up to $1 million to star in one of their adult movies.

Now, there is a market out there for porn flicks involving M.I.L.F.s, but most of them have had a few years to get their bodies back into shape. Anyone who saw the "belly" pics of the pregnant Suleman would realize that she undoubtedly hasn't had the opportunity to do so. If she was on her hands and knees, her belly would be dragging on the floor, which is not an appealing visual even to the kinkiest perv. The stretch marks on her stretch marks have stretch marks!

And if you think her belly is stretched out, well, that's probably not the only thing; after popping out 14 children, eight of them in the last litter, even a porn star-sized tool would rattle around in that thang like a clapper in a church bell. Please, Octomom, keep that last shred of dignity and spare our eyes.