Wednesday, February 09, 2005

In which Todd's Girl confuses me with the president

Todd's Girl, author of The Coming Hipster Social Security Crisis and famous to a few for her appearance on Wonkette, has deigned to read my page. She takes issue with my support for Social Security reform, and, in doing so, commits the same fallacy that she committed last week in the bar (and I don't mean drinking Whitesides scotch whiskey—which sadly lacks a web presence for me to link to—although that comes close).

Here she is:

Our opposition to social security reform does not come from a view that wants to stop history's clock but rather from an ideology opposed to the ideology behind privatization of social security and the "ownership society." We support social security as a mild (one might say, too little, too late) form of wealth redistribution. Bush touts his program by pointing out that payroll taxes paid into the system and saved in private accounts will now be left to heirs should a beneficiary die at, say, age 66. His "you should keep your money" message has a tattoo on its dark underbelly that reads "let's screw the poor."
First, she confuses me with the president. I think his plan for "privatizing" Social Security is hopelessly flawed. His plan may or may not allow people to have a shot of retiring with more money, but what it certainly does is make the federal government a large shareholder in a variety of corporations—the mutual funds one could buy into, as I understand it, are managed by Wall Street firms but the holder of the securities will be Uncle Sam. Perhaps I'm wrong; please tell me if I am. Of course, Todd's Girl might like that aspect of the plan; giving Washington the opportunity to vote at shareholder meetings would certainly give it the ability to pull some of the strings of business that some people think the government already does have. That's a good deal closer to giving the people control of the means of production, no?

Frankly, though, the idea terrifies me. Why liberals, who love to talk about the idiocy of government when it's acting overseas, would like to further empower it at home is quite beyond my comprehension.

It's not that I'm interested in screwing the poor. Who could possibly be in favor of that? I merely know that the money provided by Social Security is, on average, right at the poverty line. Let the golden years ensue, indeed. It is not clear to me that the present system does that much for them. Watch a retiree picking coke cans out of 100 square blocks of Brooklyn if you don't believe me.

I would prefer to be given more control over my future. Let me opt out of Social Security--if I'm wrong, then you can mock me in my superannuated penury.

Beaten to the punch

So today I found a website called The Ornery American. You might notice that the first paragraph onthe about page discusses the derivation of the word "ornery." So be it. You might also notice the poll. Today they wanted to know whether Pete Rose or Barry Bonds did more damage to baseball. When I checked it was Bonds by a landslide. Thanks for sharing, everyone! It's nice to know that Bonds has become the poster child for steroid use in baseball. Leaving aside whether or not players should be allowed to use steroids, why not refer to players using steroid generally, rather than just one particular one?

There are number of points on that "about" page that beg for consideration, and I, who has nothing if not time, will get to several of them eventually. But let me briefly discuss this one first:

5. We'll forgive your misdeeds, but only if you apologize sincerely and
never do it again. Our trust, once betrayed, is not lightly restored.

Mommy, the mean man wants me to apologize! And he's speaking about himself in the first person plural!

I need to do my job, but I feel good--it seems that my first Internet rivalry has fallen into my lap.

Cameron is so uptight, if you stuck a piece of coal up his ass...

I come to share exciting news from regions of space neither you nor I will ever reach, courtesy of Science Now.

Some exotic "carbon planets" in our galaxy may harbor internal layers of diamonds, according to a report this week at a conference devoted to extrasolar planets. Such carbon-rich planets could arise within dusty disks around newborn stars that have more carbon or less oxygen than typical stars--an altered chemistry that will become more common as our Milky Way ages. High pressures inside the oily planets would convert the graphite form of carbon into thick diamond layers, calculations show.

I think there's a useful metaphor here for a movie about an awkward, pimple-faced teenager. "High pressures [such as the four-hour erections in English class*] inside the oily planets [read: pock-marked, pizza-faced cranium] would convert the graphite form of carbon [ingested while the slovenly kid chews his pencils] into thick diamond layers." The last of course would be revealed in the last twenty minutes of the movie, when the hot cheerleader realizes that the dork is actually the diamond in the rough of the eleventh grade hall, but which would be confirmed when he accepted the pretty dork's invitation to the Sadie Hawkins Day Dance.

* Don't you think, in the commercials for Cialis and the like, that the announcer should say, "Please use as directed. Erections lasting longer than four hours should receive immediate attention, unless you are in high school, because everyone has already noticed, you perverted freak! No carefully carried textbook could ever conceal your shame!"

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Save me first, please

It's not entirely clear to me how going to Times Square for New Year's automatically makes anyone unthinking, as the owners of Save the Humans suggest. Forgetting your artifical bladder when going anywhere, I will agree, is a terrible mistake. But a post today reminds me of writing a blog as much as it does of sex:

"There's no such thing as a collective orgasm. But let's try our best."

Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a member of a secret society

Here's hoping that in the next Star Trek feature, "Bones" McCoy has to protest that he was never a member of Yale's premier secret society.

Either that, or the crew has to battle the good doctor's doppelganger: it could be called Star Trek: Skull and Bones.

Mealy-Mouthed Morons

I don't know if you've had occasion to visit Todd's Girl, a blog run by a film student of some limited intellect, but her critics seem even greater simpletons.

If there were other films addressing caregivers in a more positive light, I may feel differently, but this seems to stand alone.

I think we can all agree that even if no other blog exists discussing the world and all that transpires on, above, and within it with the same wit and grace that I do, then nothing else needs to exist to justify my blog, either as art or criticism.

The Mood I Am In

There are not enough emoticons to express my joy. I am on the web, capping off a remarkable nine days that began with me learning to read.

I am Ornery Citizen, Ornery to my parents, and Hank to my friends. Thank you for visiting.

According to the dictionary, "ornery" means "mean-spirited, disagreeable, and contrary in disposition; cantankerous," and it is an alteration of "ordinary." I suppose that we have the same people to thank who turned "mean" from "average" (one might say ordinary) to denoting so many less pleasant things.

At any rate, I am Ornery Citizen, and I prefer to recall the ordinariness my name implies rather than anything less civil. That is not to say I can't be uncivil—you will notice that I sometimes use apostrophes in something so formal as writing, or typing. This blog will be my occasion to share the point of view of one ordinary American with the world. So what if I do use the subjunctive mood?

One Small Step For Man, Backwards?

It has been some number of years since William F. Buckley stood astride history and told it to stop.

As we can see, he hasn't been very successful in his pleadings. That isn't through a lack of trying, however, on the part of any number of people. Creationists prove that the fear of the future is pluripotent, capable of spawning not just the likes of William Jennings Bryan, who, among other things that I am sure I will return to in a future posting, spent his last breaths howling at the moon in defense of ignorance in Tennessee, but also the likes of intelligent design witch-Doctor Michael J. Behe, who landed with a sulfurous stench on the op-ed page of the New York Times yesterday morning (and more, dear non-existent reader, on that will come later).

Perhaps the most succesful individual is the now near-absolute ruler of Nepal, King Gyanendra. One is quick to say near-absolute at the least for the presence of Maoist insurgents who dominate much of the Nepalese countryside. The Maoists themselves—I like to imagine the warmth of the reception they might receive from the twenty-first-century people's republicans holding sway in the Middle Kingdom these days—have managed to achieve a certain amount of politico-economic atavism that would be amusing if it weren't so deadly. (Nevertheless, I'll be making jokes about it, at some point.)

Buckley's Marxism, however, is funny. Surely Marx's view of history was what he was thinking of, all those years ago. Fortunately for all of us, history did not stop, although to hear some of my liberal friends talk about it, one might be tempted to think that Buckley's plea was the correct one. Equally fortunately for all of us, history did not stop where Marx thought it would, either. It remains to be seen if history stops where Francis Fukuyama thought it would, but, if I were a betting man I would bet no.

At any rate, like Buckely, my liberal friends suffer from conservatism—obviously not Conservatism or Liberalism (in the European sense) or Small-Government Republicanism (presumed dead, although confounding the coroner's investigation is a certain uncertainty as to whether it ever existed) but just a fear of the future. "I want to get off," they cry, "and I'd like to take my Social Security check with me. Also, I would prefer it if we could restore the Standard Social Sciences Model to its former glory in psychology departments across the United States."

I am not sure where that leaves me. But I am pleased that history has not stopped, even if, like my watch, it needs to be wound up sometimes.