Poll: 49% of Americans are in the minority

Here are the results of the latest Nosie-Snupes poll:

  • 78% of Americans believe that if only we got rid of the intelligence community, bad people would leave us alone.
  • 56% believe that if we stopped regulating businesses, everything would be cheaper and better.
  • 42% believe criminals would have a change of heart and go straight, if only there were less government.
  • 60% believe the Tooth Fairy’s cousin Louie fills potholes for free at night.
  • 42% believe the government wants to take away their ED medications.
  • 39% think guns make them irresistible to the opposite sex.
  • 48% think guns make them irresistible to the same sex.
  • 98% believe that government aid that they get is only sensible.
  • 98% believe that government aid that someone else gets is graft and corruption.

That’s the latest from America’s chief poll-takers, the Nosie-Snupes Foundation, a subsidiary of WTF Industries.

Government loyalty

We live in fascinating times.  We are outraged by government incursions into our corner of the Grand Database, while at the same time we cheerfully surrender any and all information about ourselves for a 10% discount at Best Buy.  In fact, we seem to be outraged by almost anything the government does these days, up to and including holding public trials to determine someone’s guilt or innocence, which we now seem to be convinced are contrived and predetermined whenever they fail to conform to our own conclusions.  These conclusions, of course, are based on what information we could glean from the news media, which we firmly believe are utterly untrustworthy, with notable exceptions, which I’ll discuss momentarily..

How has it come about that we offer up the most bizarrely intimate details of our lives daily on Facebook, yet man the barricades when it transpires that some government agency might have been reading them?  Or cough up our phone numbers and email addresses on demand when checking out at Home Depot for no apparent reason?

Well of course, you say, no point in getting a loyalty card, and then clamming up about it, is there?  There’s a sacred bond involved, similar to the bond that ties us to certain news outlets, those we are sworn to believe regardless of the absurdity of their dispatches.  Therein lies a glimmer of hope for resolving this crisis of confidence.

Government loyalty cards.  Get a loyalty card, and get a discount when you present it at tax time.  Pay more taxes, get a bigger discount.  We’d even get special offers in the mail, both snail and e, for holiday sales tax rebates, or jury duty aboard a luxury cruise ship, half price if you volunteer immediately.  All of this can be easily paid for by adjusting the “normal” tax rates for those who don’t have loyalty cards.

We might believe everything the government tells us, as we do with Fox News or The Guardian, if we thought of them as our tribe.  We might even believe government policies are based on the moral code of humanitarianism.

How to become a Facebook sensation in 10 easy steps

Another in my acclaimed series of how-to articles.

  1. Publish a blog alleging something preposterous, like “Walmart Paper Towels Used in Obamacare Plot to Cover up Monsanto Assassination of Hugo Chávez,”
  2. Arrange for a friend with Photoshop to have Batman saying it while slapping Robin.
  3. Post the result on Facebook, with a caption, like, “Wow!  Just…wow!” or something similar.
  4. When someone points out that it is, in fact, utterly ridiculous, accuse that person of censorship.
  5. Share your own post, asking why the mainstream media have been ignoring this story.
  6. When lulzsec offers to crash the FBI website in protest, share that, too.
  7. When Fox News calls, tell them you got the story from Huffington Post.
  8. When Huffington Post calls, tell them you got the story from Fox News.
  9. When interest wanes, pretend Facebook tried to shut you down.
  10. Start a petition against Facebook.

My great, great grandfather’s troika

Family stories beyond about two generations ought to be taken with a grain of salt.  But they ought to be taken, all the same, in the same way that myths must be taken.  There is a kind of truth in them, even with the embellishments required to fill in gaps.  This one concerns a great, great grandfather, a mild winter, and a wager.  A good combination, I should think.

It was, in fact, the mildest of winters in a part of the world where children’s tales involve ice maidens and ravening wolves, along with the occasional stark reminder that they’re not entirely fictional.  Snow comes early and often, and once the rivers and lakes freeze over they generally stay that way until the spring thaw.  Even today, in the deepest countryside, horse-drawn sleighs are not rare in winter time.  This particular winter the snows came late, and the air smelt of autumn into late November.  By the first couple of weeks of December, the waters had just begun to freeze, and a decent amount of snow had finally arrived, enough to change wagon wheels for runners in a land where roads were usually just a fond memory by this time.

My great, great grandfather, call him Jekab, lived out his life there, fortified against the deathly winters with buckets of vodka.  And the summers, come to that.  This was not a poor man, as these things go; he had a troika, a three-horse wagon, and any man who could use three horses just to get around was pretty well off.  Jekab even had his own little piece of land, a rarity in that time and place.  To be sure, he worked it himself, with help from the family.  You wouldn’t call him lord of the manor, but he was lord of the local tavern, for sure.  The long winters left farmers rather little to do beyond experimenting with various percentages of blood alcohol.  Jekab’s usual comrade in these endeavors was a sometime roustabout and usual layabout whom we shall call Gint.

This particular winter’s afternoon found Jekab and Gint sitting at their favorite seat at the tavern, overlooking the river.  Snow poured from the sky relentlessly.  The talk turned to a particularly alluring miller’s daughter, God bless and protect her, who happened to live at the mill just across the river.  As it happened, the ferry that crossed from just that point had finally shut down due to icing, and the nearest bridge was at least five kilometers away.  Snow already covered the icy river to a depth above the boot.  Still, Jekab expressed a desire to pay a visit to the lovely young lady, never mind his wife and children at home.  Gint, with his usual gift for claiming the obvious, scoffed.

“The snow’s up to your ass out there!”

“You’re the ass,” Jekab responded,”Knees, tops.”

“But you’ll fall on your ass after two steps, then where will the snow be?”  Both men roared with laughter at the thought of it, tears streaming down their faces.

Silence returned gradually.  Jekab looked straight into Gint’s rather bleary eyes.  “I’ll take the troika, you stupid shit.”

“You’d drive all the way to the bridge for her on a day like this?”  His eyes widened, truly impressed with such dedication.  But Jekab just waved away his words, as if they were no more than summer flies.

“Don’t be daft,”  he said.  “I’ll cross the river here.”

There ensued a lively debate about the thickness of the ice on the river, with Jekab insisting that if it could support all that snow, it could support a troika, and Gint pointing out that the weight of the troika would be added to the weight of the snow.  In the end, a wager was made.

The two men, along with a handful of the curious, stood in front of the tavern.  Jekab harnessed his horses to the troika and climbed aboard, turned it toward the river, and gave the reins a firm and resounding slap.  Off they went.

It must have been quite a sight.  Steam rising from the horses’ nostrils, the troika’s runners cutting through the mighty snow bank onto the river, Jekab swathed in fur, urging his horses into the blinding storm at the top of his lungs.  Then – silence.  They all disappeared.  All of them: horses, troika and great, great grandfather.  None of them was seen again until the spring sun melted the ice against the bridge down river.

Gint had won his bet, but lost his friend.  Life is like that.

T. Orloff.  19th c. Russian

T. Orloff. 19th c. Russian