Leisure Sickness

"In our leisure we reveal what kind of people we are." - Ovid

So for night after idiotic night we crept from ambush to ambush, sustained only by the decreasingly plausible hope of coming out alive, that and no other, and if we did come out alive one thing was for sure, that we’d never, absolutely never, forget that we had discovered on earth a man shaped like you and me, but a thousand times more ferocious than the crocodiles and sharks with wide-open jaws that circle just below the surface around the shiploads of garbage and rotten meat that get chucked overboard in the Havana roadstead.

—Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of The Night. 17.

His fame rested on lechery, alcoholism, reckless driving, and draft evasion. He had had a dazzling talent for spending millions without increasing mankind’s stores of anything but chagrin.

—Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle. 59.

I remember that you used to whisper me to sleep with stories of us one day living on the Moon… are you beyond that by now?

—Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow. 738.

There isn’t any symbolysm [sic]. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.

—Ernest Hemingway, On Writing

It was a brand-new game, in which rival architectures of hearts became the chief contenders for selection by nature, and on that new level, ever more complex patterns quickly evolved.

—Douglas Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop. 29.

Education ennobles the soul and this is useless in the army.

—Jaroslav Hasek, The Good Soldier Svejk.

Suskind: I understand the music, I understand the movies, I even see how comic books can tell us things. But there are professors in this place who read nothing but cereal boxes.

Gladney: It’s the only avante-garde we’ve got.

—Don DeLillo, “White Noise”


Shot Glass Card, A Paper Greeting Card That Folds Into a Shot Glass

It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a birthday card.


Shot Glass Card, A Paper Greeting Card That Folds Into a Shot Glass

It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a birthday card.

Stupidity has a knack for getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.

—Albert Camus, The Plague

The things people talk about.

"The Good Book says the meek shall inherit the earth and I expect that’s probably the truth. I ain’t no freethinker, but I’ll tell you what. I’m a long way from bein’ convinced that it’s all that good a thing."

-Cormac McCarthy,All The Pretty Horses

Well, look who’s back. Truth be told, this whole project was born out of frustration and boredom in Alabama, yet despite being dangerously close to financial insolvency in Texas, there just isn’t that much frustration and boredom left. Getting ready for college, buffing up on LaTeX, and trying to rehabilitate a 2,300 sq ft house doesn’t leave much room for thought. However, if there was nothing to turn over in my mind while herding chickens, there wouldn’t be much to publish.

One can’t help but notice something I like to call “Obamapocalypse”. Since his inauguration, as many of you might have noticed, there’s been a general aversion to the President, and it seems almost personal. I’ll bet anyone $10 that the word “socialist” hasn’t been thrown around with this much unfounded zeal since McCarthyism was in style. The latest grimace-inducing “political scandal”, that President Obama was fed dog meat as a child in Indonesia, is yet another in a long string of “so what?” moments that have plagued the Obama administration since the very beginning.

But let’s talk about an issue near and dear to my heart: Obamacare. If you were to read a few "conservative" rags, the consensus is that some 72% of Americans believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and should be repealed. Now, for a little perspective: this is the poll to which they refer. Indeed, in the section “Americans Do Not Think Individual Mandate Passes Legal Muster”, you’ll see that 72% of Americans polled by Gallup ”think that this requirement [buy insurance or pay fine] is … unconstitutional”.

That doesn’t look good for the PPACA, does it? If 72% of Americans believe the act is unconstitutional, logic would follow that it is extremely unpopular; since it is extremely unpopular, and the United States of America follows the tenants of democracy, it must be repealed.

This logic is the butt end of my “Joe Six-Pack is an idiot” philosophy. The United States is a republic. In other words, individuals have the loudest voices but the least real political power, which is only underscored by the extent to which our opinion is influenced by pundits banging the drum. Ironically, many of these pundits are also the loudest opponents of judicial activism, while conveniently glossing over the fact that any Supreme Court ruling on the PPACA would be judicial activism, considering how little of the PPACA has actually been enacted. Even the Gallup poll notes that “few Americans report any effect of the law on their own healthcare situation”. Then again, if I get bricks through my window detailing the first Federal court ruling to question its constitutionality, perhaps my opinion on the matter would change. (Also, it would be a good excuse to finally use my renter’s insurance.)

I’ve found that the typical last straw in dead-in-the-water debates is for an opponent to ask, “Well, what do you think about it?” Personally, I’m against the individual mandate putting a fee to people who can’t afford health care. There are quite a few reasons for people not having health care coverage, but I’ve yet to find anyone who claims that they have inadequate health coverage because they accidentally funneled too much income into their investment portfolios to pay for health insurance. [That link was just a jaunty aside; however, it reinforces an interesting point that national economic expansion results from taxing everyone highly (pre-1960, mid- to late-90’s), whereas “Reaganomics” provides economic expansion solely on the backs of the middle class.] Even though Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution allows Congress “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises … for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”, how much longer can we ignore the rampant obesity that is contributing to the overall cost of health care in a much more frightening manner than a lack of insurance ever could? Though Denmark’s saturated fat tax is generally regarded as a nominal step, it is an example of governmental policy designed to further a more constructive form of tax revenue.

So, what am I trying to say? The fat get fatter, and everyone else pays. We’ve wasted enough time quibbling over the constitutionality of one part of a massive health care bill; how about we take some private time to admit to ourselves that a rash of uninsured people seeking medical help was the piece of sand that rubbed our national sedentary Big-Mac-slamming huge-soda-gulping oyster the wrong way? Hell, we play this one right, we might even be able to get a pearl out of it.