Archive for January, 2009

Reading The News… Oh Boy!
January 31, 2009

The Globe is just so juicy today that The Lion is salivating on his keyboard. And his shirt. And his hands. And… never mind, there’s plenty of yuck to go around.

Charlie died on the MTA…

Remember Charlie on the MTA, Charlie being the forlorn hero/victim of the Massachusetts Transit Authority in the old Kingston Trio song? Well, the MTA has a new Charlie, an anonymous, well-dressed man with a laptop who had the great misfortune to collapse on the Red Line during rush hour yesterday.

Despite the frantic efforts of passengers to get help for him, and despite MTA employees being informed, and even looking at him, the train rolled on for twenty-two minutes, through several stops. To say that MTA employees looked at him overstates the case. Apparently they glanced at his body crumpled on the floor, said ‘hmmmph’, and ignored him.

MBTA officials said yesterday that crew members on the train determined the man was merely drunk and did not need immediate medical assistance. “Their assessment was that it wasn’t a situation that warranted medical attention, and we rely on the experience and the expertise of train crews that have been doing this for many, many years,” said Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

No, Joe, you don’t get it. In the first place if it is the policy of the MBTA to leave unconscious passengers collapsed on the floor of a train then there are a lot of people who should be fired, forthwith. In fact, it might be good to remove them from society permanently since they appear to value their own arrogance and cruelty more than the welfare of the humans they share the planet with.

To leave an unconscious person, whatever the reason, even if he reeks of alcohol, lying on the floor of a train, to refuse to call for medical help, to refuse to delay the train so help could get to the victim, is callous, is cruel, and bespeaks brutality and arrogance that has no place in a so-called civilized society, despite that society’s public admiration for callous, cruel, and brutal behavior in its entertainment media.

Were this travesty the act of one person, that would be one thing. But the act, or failure to act, was committed by several T employees, indicating that there is a culture of arrogance among them that is condoned by management and that insults the taxpayers and citizens who pay for and support mass transit.

The T employees involved should be pulled out of service and set to polishing rails and sweeping floors after extensive psychological evaluation and treatment. The managers that allow this behavior, who rely on the ‘experience and expertise’ of train crews who have no medical training, should be fired.

These T employees and managers probably kick puppies and drown kittens in their spare time, and if they choose to behave like sociopaths, they should be treated as such.

And MBTA? That should now read Massachusetts Bay Total Arrogance.

And the money went where…?

The front page lead story tells about credit card companies slashing lines of credit for their card customers for various reasons. Not deadbeats, but good customers.

Taxpayers gave these companies billions of dollars for the express purpose of lending the money so that credit could flow once again and the economic collapse could be averted or at least mitigated.

Not only do they now refuse to lend the money, they grant themselves huge bonuses, despite their incompetent management and overweening greed that got the country and the world into this mess.

“Yes, our company is on the verge of collapse but obviously it’s not our fault. Therefore we are granting ourselves a few billion in bonuses this year,” they harumph as they lavish taxpayer money on their mansions and fancy cars and private jets and expensive whores.

Maybe it’s getting to be time to fire up the Molotovs and storm the mansions and gated communities. Maybe it’s time to take a page from the alienated youth and workers of Europe and start torching the Mercedes and Rolls Royces. Just for a little while. Just long enough for this bunch of financial sociopaths to get the idea that they are not a gift from the gods to humanity, but are little more than a curse on society when they choose to value greed and arrogance over all else.

On the other hand, as long as the driving force of the country is the worship of money and the pursuit of large plasma televisions, perhaps the country deserves these arrogant, egotistical, would-be barons and dukes.

Interesting how they absolutely thrive under Republican Party rule, and it takes Democrats to shrivel their balls and put things right. On the other hand, the Democrats used to be better at that sort of corrective action. We’ll see if the Obamanians can bring balance back to American government and society after years of rampant abuses by Limbaugh Republicans.

(The Lion sincerely feels that if that fat-assed, loud-mouthed drug addict wants to lead the Republican Party and wants Sarah Palin as his co-conspirator, then he should be allowed to do so, without reservation. It’s win-win for the Republicans, since no matter what happens, it won’t be their fault or his fault – nothing is ever the fault of Republicans – and when the dust settles they can all retire to wherever losers retire and tell each other how perfect they were and how the world didn’t understand them and how the disasters befalling the world had nothing to do with them or their policies.)

Bend Over, Grab Ankles, And Kiss The Economy Goodbye…
January 29, 2009

Check out this piece by Dave Lindorff.

The Lion would like to think Lindorff is being too cynical, but deep down The Lion, looking at the hijinks going on in Washington, at the infantilism of the Republicans as they whine they can’t apply the same old ideas that have always failed, at the Democrats trying to be ‘bi-partisan’ with people who’s only plan is ‘my way or the highway’ and bending backwards to accommodate the Republican Neanderthals mostly responsible for creating this mess in the first place, all that gets The Lion to thinking that Lindorff is way more right than he is wrong.

Spellchecking God
January 19, 2009

Among the many errant thoughts The Lion grumbled at this morning was one (or a constellation thereof) about spellcheckers. Not the human kind, the computer kind. There are very few of the human ones left, or at least one would think so given the flood of errors in texts these last few years.

People love their spellcheckers, believing them omniscient and infallible. They must believe so, since it is increasingly obvious more people use them and fail to spellcheck their spellcheckers. The skill of proofreading has pretty much died, more so in blogs and casual writing than in the professional ranks. Yet even in professional work The Lion too often finds errors of reliance on spellcheckers.

But people are determined to accept the authority of a computerized spellchecker, apparently from ignorance or laziness.

People who don’t know how to spell, or who are uncertain of spellings simply accept the machine’s authority. After all, the spellchecker is a computerized machine and thus must be infallible. Machines don’t err, right?

Lazy writers just don’t want to do the work of proofreading. But then lazy writers are careless about their writing in all degrees. They don’t think about what they’re saying, they don’t work at finding the most effective way to say their say, they don’t do grammar very well, and they don’t care much about spelling.

The easiest course for these people is to elevate the spellchecker to the status of a god.

Don’t question it. Just accept its dictates. Don’t even dare consider that it might be wrong. The spellchecker is Authority.

And certainly don’t look at the evidence that the spellchecker is often wrong. If you type ‘soon’ for ‘son’ you could well write ‘the Soon of God’ and your computer will find no error. The only corrective might be the sound of giggles from your readers.

That attitude towards spellcheckers by the uninformed, the ignorant, and the lazy is little different from that of the fundogelicals toward the Bible or the Koran or the Torah and their error-prone human leaders who vest themselves with the authority to correct error. Thus we have God, the Great Spellchecker in the Sky.

Of course the spellchecker on your computer won’t kill people, torture them, imprison them, shun them; it won’t destroy civil societies, it won’t burn books or people; it won’t brainwash children or try to destroy reason and science. No, the worst a spellchecker can do is make you look like an idiot. On the other hand that’s often the least the fundogelical view of the world can do to its adherents.

Didja Know Christ Spoke English?
January 16, 2009

In the February Harper’s, in the Notebook essay, Mark Slouka writes an essay on the prevalence and worship of ignorance in America.

The Lion’s favorite bits:

“Way I see it is,” a man in the Tulsa Motel 6 swimming pool told me last summer, “if English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”


Communicate intelligently in America and you’re immediately suspect. As one voter from Alaska expressed it last fall, speaking of Obama, “He just seems snotty, and he looks weaselly.” This isn’t race talking; it’s education.


Millions of others, however, are adults who don’t know what the Bill of Rights is, who have never heard of Lenin, who think Africa is a nation, who have never read a book. I’ve talked to enough of them to know that many are decent people, and that decency is not enough. Witches are put to the stake by decent people. Ignorance trumps decency any day of the week.

My kind of writer, Slouka. Of course I would have uncharitably added that the fellow in Tulsa should be discouraged from breeding.

A Profound Analysis Of President George W. Bush’s Farewell Speech
January 16, 2009

George Bush is pathetic and delusional.

End of analysis. End of Presidency.

Too bad it will take a couple of generations for the Americans to dig themselves out from under the damage the little bootspittle has done.

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Florida Gators Beat Oklahoma Meerkats In Faux Championship
January 9, 2009

Not to beat a boring horse to death, but in the so-called Bowl Championship Series… wait a minute, wait a minute…

Last night’s game was one game, not a series. All the other bowls weren’t included in determining the so-called champion of college football. How does one game become a Championship Series?

Anyway, the game, won by the Florida Gators, was full of the usual interruptions by officials, commercials, promos, pictures of players walking around, and the usual panoply of endless replays, all hiding the fact that actual play amounted to about fifteen minutes over three hours of TV time.

But the best thing, the funniest thing, the most ridiculous thing was the Pavlovian, or Coachlovian if you will, behavior of the Oklahoma offense.

Time after time the Okies got up to the line, took their positions as if to run a play, and then all stood up and looked, as one, to the sidelines for some sort of magic signal from a coach. They looked like nothing so much as a bunch of meerkats from the television show Meerkat Manor, a herd of lean, furry little creatures standing at attention, scanning their horizon for danger, looking adorably cute.

Of course, given last night’s results it’s hard to avoid saying the little meerkats appear to be a lot more dangerous than the Oklahoma Meerkats.

Boston College Fires Football Coach (Yawn)… But Is There A Scandalous Tidbit Buried In The Story?
January 8, 2009

Cast of Characters:

Jeff Jagodzinski, the football Coach (“Coach”)

Gene DeFilippo, the Athletic Director (“AD”)

Boston College (“BC”)

New York Jets (“Jets”)


AD and Coach are friends. AD chooses Coach to run Boston College football, with a five year contract.

Coach has two successful seasons. Everyone is happy.

New York Jets fire their head coach.

Coach seeks opportunity to interview with the Jets, keeps quiet about it.

AD gets wind of interview, threatens to fire Coach if Coach goes to interview. AD wants Coach to honor his contract with BC.

Coach goes to interview.

AD fires Coach.

Which is all pretty much a big soap opera so-what.

Except for this paragraph buried in a Boston Globe story by Mark Blaudschun:

Jagodzinski wanted players who would have had trouble getting admitted during the 10-year reign of his predecessor, Tom O’Brien. DeFilippo worked with him on it.

These few words would seem to indicate that Coach and AD conspired to lower the academic standards or requirements for a select group of people, football players. That’s the real story here, not the teacup tempest about a coach getting fired for looking for another job.

If that’s the case, Coach should have been fired quite a while ago, and the AD should have been fired with him.

BC, which prides itself on academics, should be ashamed if it allowed this to happen.

George Bush? Fahgeddaboutim! (Except For His Destruction Of Everything He Touched)
January 4, 2009

Good column by Frank Rich over at NYT.