11/17/16

They Also Ran Good: Hubert Humphrey



[This is the eighth in a series of posts, going back several years now, on the topic of losing presidential candidates since 1960. I’ve actually had this one in the works for a couple of years, but these are supposed to be funny, that’s what I write, and it’s easy to run into roadblocks trying to do that when the subject is 1968. If you lived through it, and maybe even if you didn’t, you should be aware of one stark fact: 1968 simply wasn’t funny. It started bad, mostly ended bad except for the cool bit with the astronauts circling the moon on Christmas eve, and in between was some seriously fucked up shit. I will give it a go regardless; I like to write about history, and with 2016 being such a historic year now, I’m feeling inspired. In a year that saw such a momentous event, with Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman in history to accidentally e-mail the presidency to a cartoon billionaire, it’s time to get back to work. As always, most of what you will read is documented historical fact; some, though, is shit I made up whilst sitting alone in my room chain-smoking joints. I trust you will be able to tell the difference.]

The Man
Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr., was born on May 27, 1911 in Wallace, South Dakota. Yup, Hubert Horatio Humphrey. I’ve made fun of his cartoonish name in the past, but I’m not going to do that here. I will not. No more “Oompa-Loompa” jokes; nope, the man was Vice-President of the United States of America, after all, and deserves his dignity.

Hubert Horatio Humphrey Hornblower Honk Honk Honk

Hubert studied pharmacy in college (hey, so did I!) and ran the family drugstore before entering politics; he was elected mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1945 and senator from Minnesota in 1948. Known as a strong anti-Communist in his early political days, he became more known as a senator for his work in passing civil rights legislation and involvement in the creation of Medicare and the Peace Corps.  Chosen by President Lyndon B. Johnson to be his running mate in 1964, he spent the next four years as understudy to a man who became less and less popular seemingly by the minute after 1965.

11/10/16

Canada To Build Wall, Make America Pay For It


I'm not sure I've really got my thoughts together on this recent election, or if such a thing is even possible, but I'll give it a shot while I've got this stuff rolling around in my head. Then, of course, I will retreat back into zombie world, probably for another four years, It's OK. I'm happy there. They know me there.

This isn't about political philosophy anymore, and it's not about Hillary Clinton anymore, either. Donald Trump is actually going to have to be president now, and name-calling the opposition won't accomplish anything. Hillary Clinton's flaws don't matter anymore; the Clinton-Bush era of American politics is over.  In any case, I haven't seen any sign that Donald Trump even has a coherent political philosophy, so I don't think there is any real discussion to be had there.

This will be policy by whim, I think. And since I don't think Trump even knows what he's going to do, I'm having a hard time imagining that his supporters have any knowledge along those lines either. Which means they may or may not be happy with the results, if they even have a clue what it was they were voting for. A vote to shake things up? To shake up Washington? That's a morally neutral concept at best.  Really, even the simplest understanding of the laws of entropy and thermodynamics should tell you: a complex system has many more ways of being disordered than it does of being ordered. That's why things tend toward disorder over time, and why random shakeups are more likely to cause a system to be fucked up and dysfunctional than actually start working better. This isn't kicking your TV set back in the vacuum tube days, folks.

So what do I really think is going to happen? I have no fucking idea. My hope is that we can keep Trump too distracted to accomplish anything. Keep asking his opinions on stuff that has nothing to do with the presidency, keep getting him to rate the supermodels according to do-ability or some shit and try to limit the damage he does that way.

Predictions? I think it's 50-50 that the man goes full Napoleon-hat barking mad in office. The nuclear football will be replaced by a dummy suitcase full of knobs that set off buzzers and lights and shit, and Trump will happily bang away on them. Our next Supreme Court justice will be Judge Judy, and Newt Gingrich will think this is a good idea.

We will build the wall on the Mexican border, and make them pay for it by hiring Mexican laborers and stiffing them on the payment.

As for me, I really will try to come out of hiding once in a while to do some writing here. You'd think I would be inspired, but that might actually require watching the news once in a while, and I'm not sure that will happen. I suppose I could try to be one of the many people President Trump will try to sue for writing about him, but with my lack of resources that might be a losing cause. I would likely end up in prison, in another wing near the one holding all the women who accused Trump of groping them. (Did that actually happen? I don't know, but I do know that what makes it believable is Trump's own voice on tape. Maybe they made it all up. Of course, it's also possible that his hair crawls off his head in the middle of the night and prowls around biting women.)

On the other hand, spending my remaining years in prison might actually pass for a retirement plan before this adventure is over. 

3/10/16

My Life As Currently Constructed



I really am going to try to write some new pieces here in the coming months. Really. I would swear to God, but...you know. Whatever. But I think if I’m going to call myself a writer, which I’ve occasionally done on resumes and stuff to make it look like I did anything constructive from 2009-2014, I should probably write something now and again.

To be honest, as you might judge from my paltry few posts the last three years, I’m more TV watcher than writer these days, living in Walking Dead world most of the time now, but also a watcher who takes regular breaks to go survey people on the telephone. These surveys mostly involve the political opinions of Republican voters. The striking thing about this odd dual life is that neither half of it seems to be genuinely weirder than the other right now. In one, the world is full of dead people walking around trying to eat the living; in the other,  Donald Trump is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. I think the word dystopia was coined with one of these scenarios in mind, but I can’t for the life of me remember which one.

Oops. I’m getting into opinions here. We’ll need this:



In any case, one story involves a ragtag group struggling for survival in a world that’s come to be ruled by mindless, flesh-hungry zombies and remorseless people who will take everything they can from the weak and defenseless, while the other...

The other appears on AMC on Sunday nights.

Actually, the emergence of Donald Trump, potential president, seems like nothing more than a joke from one of those stupid 80’s movies or TV shows set in “the future,” where they make some absurd reference to someone in the public consciousness at the time. Something from, say, Robocop or Back To The Future II. Or, I don’t know, Holmes & YoYo.  Maybe a funny reference to the Chicago Cubs winning the series, or a gag about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Wait, what? That really happened? I mean the Governor thing, not the Cubs. Let’s not get ridiculous.

Now I am frightened. Just more on Tuesday nights than on Sundays.

But I don’t just watch election returns and zombie shows exclusively, mind you. For one thing, I did watch most of the recent NFL season, which I was only able to do by giving up the pleasure of calling people on “The Lord’s Day” to do political surveys, a mortal sin and a stain on my soul that I decided I could live without. I replaced that bag of fun with the sublime pleasure of watching Peyton Manning complete enough of those wobbly little turds he throws to win a Super Bowl. Honestly, the man throws turds. He tosses the ball out there like he’s letting go of a balloon, and you think about four guys will be waiting to intercept it. And somehow it’s complete for 20 yards.

To heighten the experience, these events are  interspersed with Peyton’s periodic attempts to sell me his shitty pizza, which appears to feature little turds of its own.

And those commercials, of course, are themselves interspersed with drug company ads attempting to sell me pills for the erectile dysfunction that they would like me to consider having. Maybe if they repeat the words often enough? Repetition sells, right?

She’s always been the one for you. And she’s still pretty hot. But you can’t get it up. You just can’t. Can’t, can’t, can’t. What’s wrong with you? There must be something wrong with you. Something seriously wrong with you. When the moment is right, but something is wrong with you...

Fortunately, these ads come with text at the bottom of the screen: various disclaimers, reminders of all the sexually transmitted diseases the product doesn’t prevent or cure, and warnings of possible side effects. These not only put me off sex entirely, negating the need for help, they actually provide some amusement.

I see it’s been observed and documented that a man, in “rare” cases, may experience a rash, a swelling of the tongue and/or lips, and difficulty breathing after taking this particular drug. When I see these warnings, I cannot help but imagine the not-quite-middle-aged couple on my screen, the handsome, distinguished man and his still modestly attractive wife, right at that magic moment of consummation, about to join as one and share the greatest gift ever created; they owe this bliss to, and no doubt their marriage has been saved by, the wonders of modern chemistry and its agent, the altruistic and selfless drug company.  Heaven awaits them. They disrobe, reach lovingly for each other, and...

With nary a warning, the handsome, distinguished man breaks out in every possible side effect at once. His face suddenly erupting in oozing red pustules, his lips swelling monstrously, his tongue blowing up like a puffer fish in his mouth, he clutches uncomprehendingly at his throat...and from somewhere deep in his chest comes a ghastly bubbling and wheezing sound, like “eehhhh uhhhhh, eehhhh uhhhhh.” Almost like a donkey braying, actually. A faint gurgling ensues; the man topples to his left, bounces once off the bed and falls away offscreen with a sickening thud. Woman screams. Fade to black.

I find this image terribly, terribly funny. Then again, I am a sick, sick person. I will make no apologies for this, as I am merely a product of my environment. In my environment, zombies rule. Zombies, and Donald Trump. So the world keeps telling me, over and over.  The world is obviously trying to die, and I’m inclined to let it. And watch on TV. That’s me, that’s my life.

As currently constructed.

8/20/14

The Joys of Arbitrary Milestones

I see now looking at the stats for this endeavor called Killed By Fish that I have reached a milestone--I have passed 100,000 pageviews over the life of this blog. Yay for me, right?
Well, yeah. I suppose. Actually, now that I think about it, the number is the fairly arbitrary result of the fact that human beings mostly count in base ten and that figuring in other bases results in a rather unexceptional string of digits. And the whole thing, our modern number system, is the result of having ten digits on our hands, which is probably a frozen accident of evolution. Considering how many people do just fine with fewer digits, ten is probably on the high side of usefulness; the quantity could easily have been less.
And of course there's not really anything that special about the number zero. In fact, through much of human history, it was not even realized that zero was a number, although that certainly opened things up from a conceptual mathematical standpoint.
And you never know--one of these days a bunch of mathematicians could get together for a big conference, take a vote, and decide zero isn't a number anymore.
Still, though, I'm going to pretend it's important, at least for a day or two, and try to ignore the painful fact that I've been getting more hits than ever the past few months despite not having posted a damn thing. I'm sure it doesn't mean anything.
Second prize is two weeks in Philadelphia.
Anyway...apologies, though, for not posting, to anyone who might actually be checking to see if I'm writing anything these days. The answer is "not much." I'm busy, sort of, with a new job conducting political surveys over the telephone with random strangers. It's not hard work, but if there's one thing I've learned about random strangers it's that they often behave in strange, random ways. And some states in this union behave like one big collective jerk. The other day there was one state (I won't name names, let's just call him Arizona) was acting such a jackass I wanted to send it back to the shithole factory.
I'll write about this more, maybe, in days to come. I feel the need to write a parody of the sorts of surveys I conduct, particularly those hideous animals known as push polls. Disguised as a scientific survey, they are actually campaign ads; the questions slam one of the candidates repeatedly, not just to gauge the respondent's reaction to test issues, but to actually sway their opinions, and often done in the most heavy-handed way.

     And if you learned that Candidate B was a farmer who frequently enjoyed carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, would you be MORE LIKELY, or LESS LIKELY, to vote for the pigfucker?

But such is life. Mostly I think of it as reading aloud, which it pretty much is. Better not to think. Better not to think! That approach allows me to do my job without having to face the fact that my idiot country is doomed, doomed to a bleak future of ignorant, unreasoning fear; fear of people who think differently, who put forward dangerous new ideas like math.
Yeah. More later. Shit, there's an off-year election coming up. Doomed. Shit.
My spellchecker has informed me that "pigfucker" is not in dictionary. We'll see about that.

3/2/14

Astrology For Dumbasses





















































It is estimated that every year, Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars on horoscopes and astrological forecasts.  This proves that no matter which constellation the sun is in, or which planet is rising in whatever house, there is, in fact, "a sucker born every minute."

How Horoscopes Work
Many, if not most, people who read their horoscopes will tell you that they only do so for entertainment purposes and don't actually give any credence to the forecasts.  But many of those same people will also tell you that they "know lots of people who really fit their descriptions."  You may be familiar with those descriptions yourself--people born under the sign of Taurus are bull-headed, Capricorns are stubborn goats, etc. etc. etc.  And lots of people believe they fit their own signs especially well.

How do astrologers achieve such uncanny accuracy?  By making the descriptions generic, often contradictory (you enjoy people but also need to be alone sometimes, right?) and by filling them with things people want to believe about themselves.   Tell someone that people of their sign are independent thinkers yet they value the insight of others while remaining true to their ideals but very adaptable, and most everyone will go "Yeah!  That's me!  I'm terrific like that!

"My greatness is written in the stars, just like I always said!"