Category Archives: Personal

Happy Thanksgiving!

We at Casa de las Ranas have decided to celebrate the occupation of North America today by ingesting a chicken instead of a turkey.  Downsizing you know.  No, it’s not the economy.  It’s just that we’re celebrating on our own and two people can’t reasonably eat a 24 lb. turkey.  Even the chickens at our grocery store this week were pushing 10 lbs.  It’s like they’re on steroids or something.

So anyway, enjoy your largesse this year America.  Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you all will fly.  Home that is.  Travel safely and tell TSA to keep their hands to themselves.

We shall rage again

Change is in the air around Ragebot’s offices in palatial Ragebot Tower, management will be along in a few days to explain what that’s about. In the meantime, a few summative words from here at the fake news desk.

You’ve heard of historical fiction. Fake news is current events fiction. In some ways I chose this genre because it’s easier than real news, and easier than real blogging as well. But for me fake news is the best way within my limited abilities to say something (hopefully) unique and interesting about the state of the world.

Usually the subtext running through my little stories expresses some sort of anger or disgust at something in the news, albeit hidden under jokes and lame puns. I will be forever grateful to the peripatetic Kvatch for recognizing the rage in my writing, and inviting me to join his team.

It has been a great honor to share this corner of the Web with a terrific and talented crew — Kvatch, Frogette, Cartledge (and you too, Station Agent). May Kvatch see fit to get the band back together soon.

Until then I hope Ragebot readers who enjoy my little stories will follow me back to my home base at the Wiseline Institute & Center For The Secular Humorism. And of course fans of the iNews9000 Turbo Wi-Fi Headline Translator will still be able to follow it at Twitter — just go there and search for “inews9k“.

Until we meet again, Ragebotistas.

The Week In Death

J.D. Salinger — Yes I have read Catcher in the Rye, and…no, I didn’t particularly like it. But there is no questioning that the American literary landscape is poorer now that Salinger has passed away. Hopefully rumors of a huge catalog of unpublished works are true and that we’ll now see some of those works in print.

Jean SimmonsJean Simmons — Everyone has a favorite actress from the ‘golden era’ of American cinema. People like to talk about Liz Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Grace Kelly, or Ingrid Bergman. But for me, it was always Jean Simmons, a great beauty and a great, though perhaps not the greatest, actress of her generation. Ms. Simmons died last Friday at the age of 80.

SpiritThe Mars Spirit Rover — Anyone who’s read Ragebot! (or before that Blognonymous) knows that I’m a big fan of the Mars Rovers. Without exception, Spirit and Opportunity are the most successful vehicles of space exploration ever built. Designed to last only 3 months, these complex scientific platforms have been trundling across the martian surface, doing their thing, for over 6 YEARS! Well, early this week, the Spirit operations team at JPL announced that their attempts to get the rover ‘unstuck’ from a sand pit were unsuccessful, and that, henceforth, they would concentrate on keeping Spirit alive through the martian winter. It’s roving is over, but hopefully Spirit will live on as a stationary science lab.

A Year of Living Spare-ingly

Until you decide to pack up all your sh*t and stick it in a 10×15 storage locker, you never really conceptualize just how much useless junk you’ve acquired. While it’s true that, in the run-up to our ‘grand roadtrip‘, the Frogette and I spent months selling off everything that wasn’t nailed down…there were still boxes and boxes of things that we just couldn’t bear to part with, and the worst of it were the ‘spares’.

Oh sure, for the right price one can sell just about any piece of electronics, TV, printer, or piece of furniture. And what one can’t sell, when placed outside of any San Francisco flat, usually disappears in the space of a few minutes. But what I’m talking are the things you can’t sell, like…dental floss. How is it that a pair of frogs manages to acquire somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 packages of dental floss? Well, of course, we really do know the answer to this question: “It was on sale.”; “The dentist gave us one or two on our last visit.”; “At one point we bought a ‘MEGA-floss’, enough to stretch from here to the moon!”

And that’s not all… Do you poach the good shampoos/conditioners/soaps/gels from those hotels you stay in? Of course you do! I mean they add $10 or $20 to your nightly bill just for this stuff. So, “Hell yes!” you take it, but of course that comes back to haunt you when you’re packing for vacation and you discover enough conditioner to keep the British Army’s hair silky and lustrous.

Yes…it’s been almost 8 months since the Frogette and I decided to go on the road—4 since we actually left California—and we have yet to come to the end of ‘the spares’.

Feliz Año Nuevo de Ecuador

Two years ago on this date, I was kvetching about all the regimes that had fallen due to their interactions with the criminals that comprised Bu$hCo.  I was depressed and thinking abstractly about the notion of expatriating.

One year ago on this date I noted in this post that for numerous reasons, most acutely the fact that education as the road to a better life may be the single biggest scam in the US today, the ‘American Dream’ is many decades past its death.  Nonetheless, with Barack Obama’s election and the end of the Bush regime, I was cautiously optimistic that America would soon be on the mend.

Today, after a year of ‘Bush the Third’ we find that, not only are we are committed to many more years of war in the Middle East and Asia, but that money still speaks as loudly in Washington as ever—perhaps even more loudly with the near collapse of the financial system and the wholesale indemnification of Wall Street to the detriment of most Americans.  We find that Obama has neither the nerve to stand up to entrenched corporate interests nor the stomach for any type of real change.  He is, at best, a shill for the same interests that held sway during the Bush Administration.

And on this day… I find myself living abroad and no longer treating the notion of expatriation as an academic exercise.  Happy New Year everyone.  I’m hoping for better for the US in 2010 but frankly have stopped believing that anything is really going to change.

The Health Care Debate Could Not Be More Personal

This is a post that I’ve been very reluctant to write as it involves a situation that, I’m almost embarrassed to say, really should never have been allowed to happen.

You see, for the six months leading up to our little sojourn abroad, after I lost my last steady job back in March 2009, the Frogette and I were “soaring without a net” for the first time in our lives. In other words…with no steady work and crappy COBRA coverage that was too expensive to consider, we choose to risk having no medical coverage at all rather than shell out roughly $8,000 over that period.

Was this a wise decision? Probably not. I have at least two pre-existing conditions that may preclude me from ever getting steady coverage again. (We have “temp” coverage now, but it covers almost nothing.) And we are getting older. In fact, we’ve both reached that stage of life where we really need to be taking care of ourselves, and part of that is good, solid, regular, routine medical exams. Exactly what we cannot get in our current situation, in our country of citizenship, in what Republicans keep referring to as the ‘finest, most efficient, health care system in the world’.

I don’t know how the health care debate is going to turn out. Personally, my knee-jerk instinct is to oppose what looks like another ‘super-giveaway’ to huge, prosperous corporations. On the other hand, if this opportunity to reform the system is lost, there may not be another in our lifetimes.

Regardless, what I do know is this: If the US does not move toward providing health care to all its citizens—does not make for-profit health care illegal, whether it’s single-payer or via some other mechanism—I will not allow myself and my family to be frozen out of affordable health care. I will not risk financial ruin to help pad the bottom line of corporations that are not really interested in keeping anybody healthy. I will take my expertise, my education, my industry, my company, my resources, and my taxes, and I—WILL—LEAVE! I can certainly find another kleptocracy that will, at the very least, take care of me in my declining years, and for the US government to think otherwise, is pure hubris.