Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An Exchange of Communications With My Erisian Insurance Company

OK, a couple of weeks ago I got a notice of cancellation on an insurance policy.  There was no explanation; it just said my policy was being cancelled.  I called the agent, who said there was an unpaid bill.  Well, if I had received the bill I would have paid it, right?  So while I was on the phone with the agent, I paid on the spot, by plastic-gram.

My next bill arrived for the same policy. 

I paid it the day it arrived.  I had not yet stopped scrabbling around under the bed and behind the bookshelves to make sure I had not somehow misplaced an unopened letter.  The arrival of a fresh insurance bill, unaccompanied by threatening comments, reassured me that I was receiving my mail after all, and EVERYTHING WAS UNDER CONTROL.

Today I got a check in the mail from the insurance company, refunding the amount I had just paid.

(It occurs to me that the heading for this entry is a contradiction in terms. How could an Erisian company sow anything but doubt and confusion in my mind?  How could they insure, let alone assure or reassure, any customer on their rolls?  I'll have to think deeply about this.)

Calm Down, Chicken Little! Everything Is Under Control!

I saw this graphic on the TV screen at the diner just now.  It's a candid snapshot of the Ebola virus, which as I type this is bleeding people dry all over the Western lobe of the African continent.  The news was full of stories about the American doctor being treated for Ebola and the American man who flew to his sister's side in Africa to help care for her because she had malaria -- or so he was told.  He got on a plane to come home and died of Ebola before getting any farther than Nigeria. 
The banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen, intended to soothe our worried brows? 
All hail the sacred Scare Talk!  Long may she wave! 
(Just to give you the current headcount:  800 are infected and 674 of those are already dead. They say 60% of the people who catch it die, and I'm not sure the math works out when you plug in today's figures -- does anyone have a calculator? No medicine is known to be effective against the virus.) 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It Says Here, Right On the Front Page...

...That some guy named Richard Plotts attending an appointment at a Philadelphia hospital opened fire on his mental-health caseworker, Theresa Hunt, and his psychiatrist, Lee Silverman.  He was wrestled to the ground by cops after Silverman took cover, slightly injured, and returned fire with his own gun, but I gather it was too late for the caseworker.
He was angry about a ban on guns in the hospital.
Am I wrong for struggling not to laugh?  Can you imagine anyplace else in the world where it would make sense for a psychiatrist to be packing heat in a workplace that has an active no-guns policy?  And that he probably saved his own life because of it?  Plotts is getting charged with Hunt's murder, but will Silverman be written up for noncompliance with hospital policy and procedure?  Maybe even fired?
I'll put five dollars on this right now:  NO gun laws will be changed in any way as a result of this sorry incident.  It's the American way.  Anyone want to bet against me?

Friday, July 18, 2014

...It Never Ends!

ANOTHER Malaysian Airlines plane is down, this time apparently SHOT down at the Russian/Ukrainian border.  298 people dead. 
 Russia says Ukraine did it and vice-versa. 
It would almost be funny if it turned out later that the crash was caused by an exploding onboard peanut-vending machine.  Meanwhile, we have to wonder if this is another opportunity to escalate matters into a WAR. 
This is apparently what BOTH sides want.
I wonder what Malaysia wants?   Other than planes that stay in the air, I mean.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Star Is Born

...Or at least, a star is named!  A group of Ukrainian astronomers have dipped into their Christmas Club accounts to pony up the 10 bucks needed to name their very own star anything they wanted. 
They renamed the star called KIC 9696936 -- you have to admit that has no 'ring' to it at all -- and hereinafter it will be referred to properly as Putin-Huilo, which in Ukrainian means something along the lines of "Putin is a dickhead." 
This gives me a very funny mental picture of what the inhabitants of this distant world might look like.  But it would be FUNNIER STILL if the inhabitants were noble, kindhearted, poetic types who run hand in hand with their children through fields of flowers, and who are really good with animals.
So next time you look up at the night sky, try to keep this image out of your minds:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

And Speaking of Mohamed Bouazizi...

My Discordian Soul...

...Hardly knows how to react to the events of the past couple of weeks in the Middle East.  OK, there are ALWAYS terrible things going on there, and most days -- when the terribleness is about idiots arguing at summit conferences about issues that would make a cat laugh -- it fills me with a sense of satisfaction only a staunch Discordian can feel. 
As the hymn goes, "Join in thickest fray/For the greater glory/Of Discordia!"
But now there's this.  These three kids, yeshiva students, two Israelis and an American, were kidnapped and killed, left under a heap of stones like so much roadkill:

This is more or less how they appear now:

Next, in what looks like a retribution killing, THIS menace to society was snatched and burned alive by parties unknown:
That's the 'before' photo.  Here's the 'after,' a shroud-wrapped unrecognizable mess with burns over 90% of his broken body:

I mean, LOOK AT HIM.  They describe Muhammad Abu Khdeir as being 16 years old, but he doesn't even look ready for middle school yet in this picture.  No matter how old he is, someone decided to make him a martyr in a way that serves as an extra kick in the teeth to those who revere the sacrifice of Mohamed Bouazizi, who personally began the Arab Spring by immolating himself. 
And this is RIGHT where the other, lesser-known and least-understood side of Discordia kicks in.  When Eris sees peace, she wants to stir some shit up and get everyone arguing.  Because peace is really no fun to her.  When war is raging, she goes all Jimmy Carter on you and sorrowfully demands PEACE.  Because war is so horrible. No matter what's going on, she needs to argue with it.
WHERE ARE THE DISCORDIANS IN THIS PICTURE?  Am I really the only one who wants to see EVERYONE on both sides of the controversy STAND UP AND SAY, "ENOUGH"? 
What is it going to take before the ordinary, everyday Tzipporahs and Alis who have been at war for DECADES get together for lunch and say, "We've been stupid; let's bury the hatchet"?  At the moment, this is what I see happening instead in Israel:
And in Palestine:
This may all go to the greater glory of Eris, Goddess of Chaos and Discord, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

An Artist's Impression of Eris and Her Moon, Dysnomia

Gee, looks sort of like the Moon up close and the Moon far away, doesn't it?  I like the way human artists always show a Moon -- any Moon, like this one, Dysnomia, the companion to our best-beloved new dwarf planet, Eris -- as looking a lot like Luna, the Moon that tags along with the Earth.  And Eris herself in this photo looks a lot like Luna -- if she had been used as a soccer ball by some really mean kids on a muddy day. 
(It helps to show just how little imagination the shaved monkeys really have.  Our limitations are something we should always keep in mind.)
(Just an aside. When I was looking for these images I stumbled across a startling statement about Pluto:  we cannot know the size of Pluto, it said, until the latest unmanned probe arrives there, "because its atmosphere blurs the images."  Wait, Pluto has an atmosphere?  That's where my own imagination fails, because I have always seen Pluto depicted as a bare hunk of rock like the two illustrated above.  Of course, I saw this statement on Wikipedia, so you know, caveat lector and all that.)
While I'm at it, here is a non-artist's impression of Eris and Dysnomia: 

Such lively colors!  Such a blazing halo of light! I can almost see the rays reaching for the surface of the Earth where the radiation gets everyone arguing about gun control and whether God is dead!  Coolness!