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He looked just like Vin Diesel, down to the athletic build, shaven head and the craggy, indeterminate ethnicity of his face, at once rugged and somehow feminine. He was dressed from head to toe in matching black racing leathers, and he was sitting, IPod buds in his ears, next to his bike on the side of the road, the black and white Ninja I'd seen blaze by me more than once.

It was late evening in Northern Idaho, and the weariness of piloting the U-Haul through the pass, through Spokane, and now into another large steep hill was taking its toll. The two cats, glaring death at me from their cat carrier in the passenger seat, had long since given up on meowing their way out. The cabin stank of cheap air freshener, road food and stale cigarettes. The air was finally starting to cool down, and the radio signal was starting to die.

Outside the golden rays of the dying sun played out on the vast expanse of the Northern Idaho mountains. Vin sat, staring out at the view, his face hard to read. But his helmet was by the side of the road, next to his bike, in the middle of nowhere.

I slowed the truck down, the car mounted on a trailer on the back fishtailing. Coasting carefully onto the shoulder and cursing the lack of clearance at the side, I brought it to a shuddering halt thirty or forty yards from his bike.

The cats lifted up their heads at the stopping of the truck. Something was up, and they were hoping that that "something" was them LEAVING. A paw fished its way out between the bars.

He heard the truck, and saw me coming towards him. He stood up suddenly, adopting an unmistakably defensive stance. We were about the same size, but he was certainly far more ready for a fight than I was.

"What do you want, man?"

I pointed to the helmet next to the bike.

"I stopped to see if you were okay. A helmet off and by the side of the road is a well known biker signal for "my bike is broken, and I need help.""

"I'm fine, man, I'm just resting my back and listening to some tunes." Annoyed.

"No sweat, just wanted to make sure you weren't stranded in the middle of nowhere. Nearest gas station is tens of miles or so, if I remember correctly."

He thought for a moment. The hard mask of his annoyance melted. "Hey wow, if I really was having problems, I'd be really screwed."

We both looked up and down the road. Deader than a doornail. Just the two of us there, not a car in sight. The silence was suddenly eerie.

"Yeah. Well, glad you're okay, and hey, a biker always stops to see if another one needs help."

He nodded. "I didn't know that."

I touched my finger to my temple and got back into the cab.

It’s not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigration sentiment or anti-trade sentiment...

Senator Barack Obama
explaining what middle America
does during an economic crisis.

Oh, goodness, now look what you've gone and said. I've been taking heat from my fellow GOP members for supporting the charismatic Senator from Chicago. Between his wife's statements about not being proud of her country and Obama's own words, leaked out of a closed-door fundraising meeting with wealthy and privileged San Franciscans, he's kind of sullied his cred so far as I'm concerned.

Part of me indeed wants an intellectual elitist as President. Part of me forgives him for stating something that, sadly, rings true about many of our lesser-intelligenced brothers and sisters (wherever they may reside). Tossing in the bit about anti-immigration and anti-trade obfuscates his message even more. This morning, his explanation went from bad ("I misspoke") to humorous (something about incorrect syntax).

Why did he go and pull a Hillary and put a spin on it? Can't he just continue taking the moral high ground and say "aww, you caught me being an elitist prig and I'll think twice before I stereotype people again"? Is that too much to ask?

There's a sound bite making the rounds of various media outlets, most on the right, which captures Michelle Obama using speech like "thinkin'" and "y'all know where I'm comin' from." All those apostrophes. It doesn't fit well on a Princeton-educated woman. The icing on the cake, the fodder for criticism she gave the fussy right-wing radio talkers, was when she said, "So let me give you a better sense of who me and Barack are and why we're doing this..." Now, I'm the first one to realize that when Limbaugh and Hannity and Mark Levin howl that she's mangling language, they're hypocrites. They've been forgiving the President his pronunciation of "nuclear" for nearly eight years. But back to Michelle.

If one listens to the actual quote, all of those apostrophes I've used hereinabove translate into a woman with perfect diction trying to dumb-down her speech in an attempt to sell her point of view. Well, like Hillary, she's trying too hard. Her rhetoric came off like a poor television actress trying to follow a script that doesn't match her speech pattern. I cringed when I heard it.
 

Bible and Bullets:  The Honeymoon's Over

I'm sad. Just when I thought that my guy for President was going to run a spotless, above-reproach campaign, I was proven wrong. It's like the two of them are trying hard to buddy up to people that they should keep at arm's length. Michelle will never fit in with the kind of people she was making nice-nice with. She plaintively cried that she's a "regular gal" 'cause she grew up on Chicago's South Side. "I am a product of a working-class background," ... "I'm one of those folks who grew up in that struggle. That is the lens through which I see the world. That is the imprint that is in my soul."

She's none of those folks.

Now, let's skewer her husband. The idiot thought that his little bit about us stupid middle Americans; the part about us clinging to our guns and religion in times of crisis, would stay in the room of highbrow movers-and-shakers. Well, welcome to politics, Barack. There are flies on every wall just waiting to get a few bucks from the other side to spill the beans.

And while I'm at it, let me say for the record, "fuck you, you junkie bastard." You let me down. I own guns. I enjoy target shooting. I'm also rather religious — but my religion is considered a "thinking man's" religion, so I guess I don't count. But you better be sure I cling to my religion. Heck, I live my religion.

Barack, you better get it together; and fast. All your talk about "for a change" and "unification" will soon be forgotten if you and your wife continue the political business-as-usual that for so long I thought was a tool that only your opponent employs.


ACCUSATIONS OF RACISM!!! This piece originally started with "Boy, look what you've gone and said...". I meant "Oh, boy!" and did not call Obama "boy", as some readers mistakenly presumed. I was just expressing exasperation.

My recent writeup concerning perceived childfree hate on the Internet got me plenty of responses on both sides of the fence, as I figured it would. Let me reiterate that I don't think every CF person is like that. To say that would be as bad a stereotype as assuming all parents are weak-kneed, servile puppets making sure their little darlings are protected from all evil and showered with all they desire. For the record, I believe parents of that sort deserve a smack upside the head, because they're helping to breed a completely sociopathic, narcissistic little jackass, and pissing everybody around them off in doing so.

For example, my great aunt and uncle, through the mindboggling and inept graces of the Illinois adoption system, managed to adopt a boy when I was younger. (My parents, two people who had raised four children quite well, tried multiple times and failed. Go figure.) I vividly remember a party at my house that they attended: I must have been in junior high, and this kid was six or seven, perhaps. I remember him kicking, biting, and punching the other kids, laughing the entire time, so we went to complain. His mother said some feeble thing to him, along the lines of "play nice, you know hitting people is bad."

The kid's reply was "Shut the hell up." (Or something very similar along those lines, quite possibly far more vulgar. Again, my memory fails me on the exact phrase, but I remember it was totally inappropriate.)

His mother and father laughed and remarked to the other adults in attendance how cute he was. I think my preteen jaw hit the freaking dirt. I could not believe this. Were we to have done that, my father would have dragged us by the ears to our bedrooms and given us hour-long time-outs. (Actually, no, it would probably be immediate bedtime with no dinner.) So believe me, I understand where people are coming from, because parents like that are raising the future bullies (at best) or felons (at worst) of our society, and it angers me. But it also angers me when people lump me in with these losers simply because I have a child.

One way to bridge ideological gaps is to try and identify common ground -- the places where moderate CF individuals and responsible parents can come together and agree. So let me start by listing a few of the things that I do believe:

  • Children will sometimes be a pain regardless of what a parent does -- this is just a basic fact -- and some people will be annoyed by it.

    This is why I am in full support of theaters and restaurants that are "adults only" or have "adults only" areas. In fact, I believe more restaurants should adopt this policy. I totally understand that (most) children are noisy and disruptive more often than (most) adults, and that some folks would rather stay away from them and enjoy a quiet night out; there should be more opportunities for people to do so. But of course, it should not be the responsibility of those without children to seek refuge from them, which is why I also strongly believe...

  • Children must be taught how to behave in public.

    Part of teaching a child is showing what is acceptable and unacceptable in public. Obviously, they are not going to conform to the Victorian Era ideals of being "little adults," but the point is that they should be on their way toward the goal of being socially responsible adults. And in order to reach that goal...

  • Children must be disciplined consistently and strongly.

    This one can be difficult, because kids are always testing boundaries. If a kid wants something and the parent won't let him get it, the kid will sometimes have a temper tantrum. This is extremely grating to other people in the area, and extremely embarrassing to the parent in question, and the kid knows it.

    The problem is that the best way to deal with these tantrums is to ignore them, so the kid learns that screaming and crying and causing a scene will not lead to a reward. But doing this often gets the parent scattered nasty looks from other folks who just want the kid to be quiet. In some cases, the parent can leave the kid at home with another parent/sibling/guardian and shop alone... but that really just postpones the problem. At some point, the kid will have to learn that lesson, and a public tantrum will be the result.

  • But children must never be disciplined through physical force.

    The appropriateness and efficacy of spanking has been a debate for decades, but appears to be mostly frowned upon these days. My own parents abandoned it early on in favor of a three-count warning and time-out system, and I'd like to think it worked pretty well. But in any case, if I ever were to see an adult of any kind raise a hand toward a kid, you better believe I'm going to announce loudly and clearly to everyone within earshot what that asshole is doing.

  • People who choose not to have children, or dislike being around children, are in no way inferior or less important than those that do.

    I think that this is one of the big things that gets so many CF individuals angry. Just because one does not desire to raise a child doesn't mean that person isn't contributing to society in other ways. One might volunteer at a soup kitchen, or run a local farmer's market.

    Then there's the argument that raising children is not necessarily a beneficial contribution to society. That's certainly true. I would put somebody who allows their child to end up a complete sociopath at the absolute bottom rung of society, in that they are probably contributing more to the future degradation of society more than most other people on the planet. Those parents who turn up their nose at the CF and sniff sayings like "you're just envious" or "you must be an awful person" are often the same ones who are transferring that overblown ego onto their kids; they are the inferior ones.

  • You don't know what it's like to be a parent unless you are one... but that doesn't matter in the slightest.

    "You don't understand what it is like to be a parent" is one phrase I've heard a few CF advocates say annoys them. Well, I would argue that this statement is true, but that it doesn't really mean anything. I mean, obviously someone doesn't know what it's like to be a parent unless he or she is one. Likewise, you can make the same argument for being gay, straight, bi, black, white, Asian, Latino, male, female, reptilian -- that list could go on forever. I would suggest that any CF person who is told this little gem simply respond with, "You're right; could you describe it to me?" If the parent has a valid point to make, he or she will elaborate; if it is just being used as a retort, he or she will probably slink away.

  • Simultaneously, parenting is in fact a difficult task, and one should not be vilified simply because one chose to undertake it.

    The core of this issue comes down to "Should people be given special treatment because they chose to undertake a difficult task?" I have heard many arguments saying that maternal/paternal leave are unfair, because those who choose not to have children don't get those sorts of perks. The counter-argument is usually "well, raising children is a societal duty that parents choose to undertake, so they deserve to be compensated for that effort." Which then provokes the rebuttal of "They made a conscious choice to do that, so if it is difficult they have nobody to blame but themselves," and "Why then don't single people that consciously choose to contribute in other ways to society get rewarded in the same manner?"

    I don't have a solution for this. I don't believe parents shouldn't get maternal or paternal leave -- it is obviously important to a child's development. But I understand the other side of the issue as well; what about the contributions of single people? Or, heck, if you don't consider child-rearing a societal boon (which I understand -- only responsible child-rearing is a boon, irresponsible parenting is a detriment), perhaps every person should just be allotted some sort of lifetime cache of leave that they are allowed to use as they see fit, or perhaps Americans should get the six weeks of vacation so often given to Europeans, and if they happen to be spent on child-rearing, so be it. Given the entrenched attitude toward vacation in the United States, though, I can't see that happening any time soon.

There has to be a middle ground where reasonable adults can come together and form solutions diplomatically -- and perhaps even lobby for reasonable, moderate efforts (like the aforementioned restaurant "adults only" areas) that could drown out the cries of "OH MY WIDDLE WOOGUMS" and "SCREW YOU AND YOUR SPROGS". Perhaps I'm being too much of an idealist, but dammit, I still think this sort of problem-solving is possible.

All right, here finally is the follow-up daylog to April 9, 2008, where I challenged the greater E2 community to tell me which one of the three "amazing stories" about me was a lie. There were three, two were true, one was a lie.

  • Story #1 - About me almost dying at Camp Skullbones: TRUE.
  • Story #2 - About the hockey player threatening to kick my ass: FALSE
  • Story #2 - About me maybe possibly seeing a UFO: TRUE.

So #2 was the correct answer. E2's record here (right to wrong guesses) is 6 and 5, one above .500, so not too shabby. I found it interesting that all the wrong guesses, except for one, were for #1. I guess that means that that is possibly the one that's the most amazing.

As promised, here is the Awesome List, or those who got it right.

Awesome:

  • kohlcass (who said "Two is obviously false. Cartoonists don't own a body, only fingers, so they can't be beaten up.")
  • Dimview (who said "The untrue story is #2 :-D (no, I won't offer any explanation as to why I think so, other than that was the most boring one). Hehe.")
  • Junkill (who said "I say it's number two, you crazy person. Coz you'd put a reasonable one right in the middle of two crazy(but true) ones.... but that's just what I say.")
  • Swap
  • Kizor
  • swankivy (who said, after telling me the correct answer in an email, "Don't forget to put me on your awesome list, you bitch!"

I won't bother posting the entire wrong list, but here are a few interesting quotes from those who weren't quite so awesome:

Excalibur said "Number one is obviously the story you made up to hide your secret auto-erotic asphyxiation habit. So I say 2 and 3 are true."

Jet-Poop said "I'm going to vote for the UFO story. Extremely cursory research didn't turn up any particularly spectacular sightings in Missouri in 1990..."

DejaMorgana said "Interesting daylog. I'm gonna guess that Story #1 is the madeup one, not because it doesn't sound probable (it does) but because it has too much detail, kind of like you were working overtime to make it stick."

Thanks for playing, guys! I plan on doing this again sometime.

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