Moral Turpitude

19 06 2018

The news media in this country has been wringing their hands lately about the latest crisis-du-jour– the mind-bogglingly large numbers of people growing addicted to (and not-infrequently dying from) misuse of opium-based analgesics. While this technically includes opium, heroin, and morphine, these are not the primary pharmaceuticals singled out for that special ‘hushed-voice’ description. The media is usually speaking of percocet, oxcontin, and oxycodone- different flavors of codeine-based chemicals mixed with different levels of acetominophen to improve the level of pain relief.

Lots of media personalities with furrowed brow have opined on this or that aspect of the “opiod epidemic”, with most of the blame falling on several dozen so-called “pill mills”, which exist solely to feed the raging black-market demand for these pharmaceuticals by issuing prescriptions for absurd amounts of the drugs for just about any complain. When the local cops and Federal agencies shut these pill mills down, they re-form with “new management” a few miles away (often in a different county) to start the process all over again.

One would think this sort of problem would be an auspicious use of Federal and State law-enforcement funding and training, and one would hope such organized crime were the subject of intensive effort by every level of law enforcement. Sadly, this is NOT the focus of Federal and State law enforcement. Apparently, going after organized gangs who dispense dangerous drugs as if they were a new form of candy is just too hard. So the focus is on Your Doctor.

Your doctor, my doctor, and most of the other physicians practicing in the US are not involved in organized crime, they keep diligent records, have a regular practice in a hospital and/or office, and rarely have high-priced mob attorneys on speed-dial. They’re also not even vaguely the biggest source of misused opiods, but they are easy to get at. So the Feds and State law enforcement troopies have been making their lives Hell.

And then the Puritan shitweasels get involved.

If the “opiod crisis” was merely some people getting too many pain-killers, it would be just a law-enforcement issue. It can’t be just a law-enforcement issue for Puritan Shitweasels- it also has to be evidence of moral failure. If the opiod epidemic was caused by moral failures, then Puritans could feel ever-so-smug and righteous and holier-than-thou about the people falling victim to these drugs. If opiod addiction is proof of a lack of morals, then the Puritan Shitweasels can wash their hands of any responsibility for providing treatment or assistance.

And that is how the issue has been re-imaged here in the US. Everyone who uses pain-killing drugs has something morally wrong with them.

Here in the Shallow South, for example, your doctor can no longer prescribe a wide variety of analgesics. All such prescriptions must be controlled by state-approved “pain management” programs.

Let us say you were a 80% disabled veteran living in the Shallow South. The disabling condition which got you your medical discharge has left you in constant pain for fifteen years. During those fifteen years, you have been diligently avoiding prescriptions of codeine-based drugs because they lend themselves so easily to addiction and further depress your mental acuity to ‘drooling moron’ for far longer than the pan-killing effect. You and your doctor have settled on a drug which is far more expensive, is hard to grow addicted to , and doesn’t have the severe mental depressant effects of most codeine-based drugs. You’ve been taking this drug and have remained largely a productive citizen for more than a decade as a result.

But then, your doctor informs you he cannot prescribe this drug anymore because of the “opiod crisis”, and you will have to see a pain-management center in order to get your pain-killer. You may be of the opinion this was dumb, and you probably have a lot of company in that opinion, but you get yourself duly assigned to yet another doctor who knows NOTHING about your medical history. And then the stupidityness starts in earnest.

– All prescriptions for pain medicines MUST be issued by the pain management doctor, or you risk getting thrown out of the pain-management program. Even if you get hit by a truck and the ER doc gives you some painkillers, you cannot fill that prescription. You MUST take it to the pain-management doc who will then decided if you get it or not.

– Your prescriptions must all be filled only at one pharmacy of your choice. If that pharmacy (say, Rite-Aid) can’t fill the prescription, but another Rite-Aid a few miles away can do so, you risk getting thrown out of the program for “pharmacy shopping”.

– You must see the pain-management doc every 90 days, without fail, regardless of holidays, national emergencies, your pain-management doc quitting the practice, or any time you may spend in the hospital. Failure to comply gets you thrown out of the program.

– You must bring your pain meds with you to every appointment so they can be counted by hand to determine if you’re misusing the drugs. You also have to give a urine sample at every appointment to make sure you don’t have anything else in your system.

– You are prohibited from consuming alcohol in any form while you are in the program.

Let us further imagine you- the 80% disabled veteran above- are scheduled for some surgery in a last-ditch attempt at removing or reducing the pain. Prior to surgery, you duly let your pain management doc know the surgery is coming up and you will require post-operative pain treatment. Your pain management doc will issue a prescription for what HE thinks you will need, not the doctor doing the surgery. Let us assume you spend two days in post-op while the hospital tries to get a handle on your pain (on a logarithmic scale, where 1 is a paper-cut, and ten is you begging the doctors to remove your limb), and the surgeon prescribes an additional pain med to use in conjunction with the opiods already prescribed. Well, now, you’re right proper fucked.

Trying to follow the byzantine set of rules for pain management, you call the pain management folks to tell them you have a new prescription in addition to the original one. You get transferred to the ‘prescription line’ which has been set up for re-fills only, and has no provisions for a new prescription. You get told they’ll get back to you in five business days. You make multiple calls to pain management, trying to break through to someone with a functioning brain. Finally, in despair, you grab your hospital discharge paperwork and the prescription from your surgeon and have your wife drive you down to the pain-management clinic just two days after discharge in order to explain in baby-talk to the clinic staff that you can’t really wait for five fucking days.

Finally, you’re back home in bed, with your wife at the local pharmacy getting your newly-approved meds, and the phone rings. It’s the pain-management clinic telling you they’ve decided NOT to approve your surgeon’s prescription.

Current status: Vexed

Current music: The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether by Alan Parsons Project


27 03 2018

I doubt there are many still watching these pages. I’ve been away for a couple of years. Not physically- I’m still comfortably ensconced in the Shallow South, amusing myself by lambasting the herds of morons and Jethros surrounding me. But I stopped posting here after the last election.

Those who know me probably get it, but those whose only exposure to me comes through these electronic missives might not understand. After all, the election of the Tangerine Twatwaffle should have provided me with ample fuel for rants. This is, of course, true. But I’ve been unable to properly express my horror and loathing at what is happening to my country.

Actually, scratch that. I could very easily express my feelings on the subject, but who wants to read several thousand swear words joined by just barely enough non-invective to make complete sentences?

In lieu of posting here, I’ve been schmoozing with my Feline Overlords, spending time at the shooting range, writing a few short stories and working on two novels, editing a weekly newsletter for a fictional investment company, trying to lose weight, and managing to keep a legitimate income stream coming in to keep a roof over head and the bill collectors at bay.

And trying very, very hard to control my visceral reaction to the madness engulfing us- both here in the States and all over the world.

In the words of a famous mariner and philosopher, “I’s had all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!”

The US has gotten by for a bit over two centuries by adhering to loads of unstated and un-legislated rules of behavior. The Founders of this country fucked up very badly by believing the People would never allow themselves to fall under the sway of a shrieking shitgibbon with delusions of competence. They also never dreamed Congress would be controlled by creatures who refuse to rein in the orange-colored manbaby at the head of the government because they’re busy trying to score short-term political and economic gains at the expense of rationality, long-term catastrophes, and even the continued viability of the country as constituted.

Political parties are a convenient means of semi-controlling the chaos made manifest which is the true state of politics in any vaguely democratic government. Like all conveniences, there are some deleterious side effects as a consequence of that convenience. George Washington even warned us in his farewell address to the nation:

The Founders never imagined their descendants would intellectually and morally devolve so far  as to place their party’s interests above the country. To be fair, and to prevent accusations suggesting I am deifying the Founders, they also (with a few notable exceptions) could never have imagined a black man being elected President, women having the right to vote, or the staggering complexity of the modern world. They were not gods- merely men. Men who were products of their time and possessed of beliefs and behaviors which would be considered outright barbarism today.

But they assumed those who would follow in their footsteps would be at least moderately interested in doing what is right for the United States of America. The Founders assumed (wrongly, as we now know) the Americans who succeeded them would better their own conditions by working to better the conditions of all their fellow Americans.

This may never have been true, although it is one of the core unstated beliefs of the American Experiment, but at least the faded trappings of this ideal has largely been adhered since the Constitution was ratified and adopted.

No more. Those currently in power seem to be concerned only with looting the country for the benefit of themselves and their wealthy friends. The Congress which should act as a check on the power of the Executive is instead cooperating with the excesses of the Presidency- even in the face of strong evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors”- because the current occupant of the White House happens to have the right capital letter after his name. In the interest of short-term political expediency, those who are running the country are insulting and antagonizing our allies and friends. They are willfully destroying the elaborate network of trade agreements and alliances which are to a great extent responsible for America’s current prosperity. They actively encourage anti-intellectualism and happily sow internal discord among the populace in order to obfuscate their pillaging of America’s resources for their private gain.

And a significant number of Americans are cheering them on.

The United States of America is wealthy and prosperous because of hard work, an appreciation of the value of education, a welcoming attitude towards immigrants, long-term funding of scientific research, careful cultivation of trading partners and allies, access to vast resources within its borders, and not a small amount of good fortune. Those currently in power and their benighted followers are cheerfully trying to get rid of all of those assets and rely on luck.

Luck, for those not paying attention, comes in three flavors- blind, dumb, and bad. You don’t get to chose which variety shows up. You’re stuck with whichever one it happens to be. I prefer to make my own luck, or at least manage my resources sufficiently to stave off the most disastrous consequences of ill fortune. The current situation is not something over which I have any actual control- but WE do.

We (the People) can do something about the ongoing evisceration of American influence and prosperity. We can add our voices to the voices of others speaking out against a government seemingly determined to auction the country and its people off to the highest bidders. We can litigate against the policies and iniquities of those who see themselves as our rulers instead of our servants, support those who initiate litigation, and serve on juries as a result of government impropriety. We can vote against those who are more interested in personal profit and aggrandizement than in doing the jobs we hired them to do. We can run for office ourselves, or support those who do run for office in opposition to the reprehensible and obnoxious creatures currently infesting governments across the country.

But that all means you can no longer sit back and remain passive. You have to step out of your comfortable little bubble and pay fucking attention. The clock is ticking,and every minute the odious scavengers rooting at the trough of the public treasury destroy another small bit of what makes America what it is. They villains in this scenario are calculating they’ll finish extracting every last centavo of value from the country and bug out with the loot before the average American wakes up to the fact he or she is literally being robbed. Tick, tick, tick.

The only way they can get away with it is if WE let them.


Current music: The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether by Alan Parsons Project

On the Origin of the Feces

30 06 2008

On the 1st day of July in 1858, members of the Linnean Society– a fellowship of amateur naturalists and biologists- met and heard the results of two naturalists’ work: Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin had independently come to the conclusion that species evolved over time as a result of natural selection.

This was not the bombshell most people today seem to believe. The reading of both mens’ works took quite a long time (Darwin had been compiling notes for two decades), and the membership left slightly stunned by the sheer amount of information. Outside of those interested amateurs and the two principals (neither of whom were present), no one seemed to notice.

All that changed a year later when Darwin completed the work for which he is best known: On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection. Darwin had deliberately written the book to be understandable to the average person- unusual at a time when most such works were written in elaborate technical jargon indecipherable by any but those with a lifetime of study on the subject. This “popular” format (although modern readers are frequently dismayed at the wordiness common to the era) allowed Darwin to present his research to a vastly wider audience- ensuring (he thought) a healthy debate. Debate there certainly was, but healthy is not a good description.

We may justifiably refer to this milestone in scientific progress as the Origin of the Feces. The religious authorities of the day, until then secure in their positions as arbiters of the Human Condition, rapidly devolved into their chimp-like ancestors and began hurling excrement at the book, the ideas within, and Charles Darwin. It would be lovely to think that he had his shining moment before the Inquisitors where he could let slip a great quote like Galileo (“nonetheless, it still moves“), but Darwin wisely retired behind a screen of enthusiastic supporters and let his work do the arguing for him. The arguments culminated in a famous debate between Thomas Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce at the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Oxford, which ended in a draw on points. Strategically, however, the debate was a win for science, because science was now increasingly seen as the authority on the natural world, supplanting religion.

Due to the nature of the book and the arguments and ideas within, Darwin and Russell’s revolutionary idea rapidly swept the scientific community around the world. One hundred and fifty years of observation and testing have verified and confirmed evolution and natural selection as a viable scientific theory. Genetics, the discovery of DNA, and the developing resistance of many bacteria to antibiotics (among other things) have all served to confirm this theory. Evolution and natural selection have met the scientific standard for accuracy.

But that just isn’t good enough for some people. The philosophical descendants of the religious authorities of Darwin’s day are still squeezing out dung and hurling it at all and sundry. To no one’s surprise, these chimp-like creatures are all deeply religious (although I hesitate to call most of them deep). Completely immune to logic, reason, and evidence, these mentally-devolved primates have decided that a bunch of desert-dwelling ungulate-herders figured the whole thing out a couple of thousand years ago. Any deviation from the beliefs of those long dead, barely-literate nomads is heresy. One wonders how often the modern religious whackjobs stone their children to death for failure to observe the Sabbath, but that would be a digression.

By itself, the rantings of the mentally-devolved followers of a semitic storm god would be of little import to scientific endeavors. Unfortunately, these devolved simians gather in large groups to collectively throw their excrement, and their chattering and screeching and feces-hurling is very distracting to slightly more evolved primates .. such as politicians.

Most politicians are incapable of thinking of anything past their next election, so the distracting antics of the feces-flingers makes the politicians try desperately to shut them up and make them go away. And so it is that the retarded ideas of semi-sentient religious shitslingers is making a serious bid to derail scientific research.

In a rational world, science would be left to scientists. A world where people like Pat Robertson is considered politically influential is not rational. So the shrieking and chattering of the devolved chimpanzees is taking the place of reasoned debate, and the hair-mantled, flint-hurling australopithicenes who constitute the religious extremists have become the barbarians at our gates. In the name of their non-existent deity, these vermin would have the rest of the country turn back the scientific clock and deny the evidence in favor of evolution by natural selection. Because it makes them feel bad.

If you wish to follow a religion made up by desert-dwelling animal herders a few thousand years ago, be my guest. If you want to believe that a Jewish zombie will save your soul, knock yourself out. If you want to deny the demonstrable facts of evolution, I say- go for it. But you have no right to force the rest of the planet to deny reality in the name of your Angry Invisible Skyman.

Of course, hoping for such reasonable behavior is illogical. The religious australopithicenes among us cannot successfully argue against the scientific evidence, so all scientific evidence must be deemed heretical and silenced. In lieu of arguing on the evidence and the scientific method, the religiously indignant resort to screaming and hurling their dung at any who dare gainsay them. These luddites do not belong in a civilized society. They apparently long for the mythical “good old days” of the 1950s … or maybe the 1350s, and are willing to drag the rest of us down into the abyss with them.

I declare these people to be my enemies, and the enemies-general of all men, to be dealt with as wolves are. They are a threat to our modern, technological civilization. We cannot allow the religiously deranged among us to destroy what has taken millennia to develop. They must be stopped at every turn.

Remember the Four Boxes? There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty in the following order: Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammo.

Since the religious fuckwits I mention are a minority- even among their co-religionists- we can defeat them using the first three boxes. Do not permit them to spew their luddite hatred without opposition. Speak up and counter their venom with evidence and reason. Vote them out of office at every opportunity- their religion has no place in public policy. Sue the bastards when they try to force their beliefs upon others. We must oppose them before they gain the political power to suppress and drive underground all dissent. Once they succeed in this, our only option will be that fourth box.

Once we resort to that fourth box, the fecal material will definitely encounter the oscillating atmosphere agitation device.

Current status: Perturbed

Current music: Mandelbrot Set by Jonathan Coulton


28 01 2008


The Public School system in this country is supposed to provide children with enough of an education to become good citizens. Everyone- including those who have no children- pays a certain amount of taxes to pay for this as part of the price we are willing to pay for living in this society. For a long time, we (the People) were getting a bargain. Most students were getting enough knowledge to be at least functional members of society.

Those days are over. The Public School system has become a vast sinkhole we throw our money into for little discernible return. People have been grousing about the declining state of our Education system for decades. School administrators were quick to point out the cause: Class sizes are too large because there aren’t enough teachers. There aren’t enough teachers because we don’t pay them enough. We don’t pay teachers enough because they aren’t doing a good job teaching. Teachers can’t teach effectively because class sizes are too large. Et cetera ad nauseum.

There have been attempts to fix these problems. Teachers were hired, given raises, and given minimum standards to meet. Class sizes were reduced. But the Public Education system in the US has continued its spiral of decline. How could this happen? We’ve dealt with the teaching issues (by and large, here and there, more or less). School administrators scratched their collective heads and suggested that maybe the children were at fault. It’s a lovely idea, but not borne out by the data available. Random testing of a wide cross-section of the student population shows that kids entering school are generally as smart as they ever were. But each successive graduating class has been scoring worse on random tests than the previous one.

School administrators all around the country mused, “It isn’t the students. It isn’t the teachers. Maybe it’s the parents”. Could be. The home environment has a huge influence on a student’s performance. That said, most students come from stable households and are not suffering from malnutrition or other abuse. The overall decline in output quality can’t be laid solely at the feet of those students who do come from abusive or unstable households.

The school administrators then put forth the idea that “it has to be a ‘culture thing’. Really. There’s no other explanation.” A relatively small percentage of all students meet the “at risk” criteria based on home and/or cultural environment. The growth in this percentage is far outstripped by the decline in standardized test scores.

Having discussed all other factors in the decline in American Public Education, we seem to be left with one remaining commonality- school administrators.

With few exceptions, news stories about school administrators show them to be largely dictatorial bean-counters who have lost sight of their sole reason for existence: making sure children get a good education. Instead of paying attention to this basic requirement, many school administrators are spending their energies punishing students for the slightest lack of conformity.

A recent news report from Buffalo, NY, tells the tale of a High School Senior who fell afoul of the school administration. It turns out that the Principal and head coach arranged to fire a volunteer basketball coach who was very popular with the students she coached. The students objected to the firing, and contacted the local School Board, requesting to get put on the agenda for the next meeting. All of those students were suspended. The Principal told the school board that the students’ parents had objected to the children speaking to the Board. One of the students pointed out that none of the parents had, in fact, objected. The parents were strongly in favor of the students speaking to the Board about this issue. She was suspended for 7 weeks, ostensibly for missing school without an excuse. The Board was told that this senior was a troublemaker.

In another case, some parents were trying to get the local school administrators to publish the discipline policies for the school district. When the administrators refused to do so, and the School Board backed ‘em on it, the parents started a public website identifying the recalcitrant administrators and Board members by name, and repeating the call for publishing the disciplinary policy. In retaliation, the school expelled the child of those parents and filed a lawsuit to get the web page removed. A counter-lawsuit by the parents is still pending.

These are just a small sample of news reports about school administrators and School Boards. All over the country, petty tyrants in the form of school administrators are making the news through equally despotic behavior. These tin gods have no checks on their authority, and frequently refuse to produce written procedures or regulations to justify their actions. In fact, most school administrators in the news get hopping mad at the idea that anyone dares hold them accountable for their actions.

I’m admittedly painting with a broad brush, here. All school administrators are not necessarily petty dictators more concerned with their own egocentric authority than getting the job done. All teachers are not time-serving hacks with no interest or concern for the young minds in their care. All students are not violent sociopaths from broken homes who are culturally averse to learning. All parents are not apathetic hulks more concerned with their creature comforts than their offspring. All of these problems contribute to our declining academic standings. We hear about the people who fit these descriptions because that gets good ratings. That said, the regular decline in this country’s academic performance scores shows that there are enough of these people to screw things up for everybody.

We can’t change the parents without becoming an omnipresent dictatorship (and probably couldn’t even if we did). We can’t force the children to turn off the video games and music videos and open a textbook (although the parents could). We can’t force teachers to care about their students (although school administrators could- by making it unprofitable to do so). We CAN do something about the school administrators.

Not sure who originally said this, but there are four boxes which should be used to defend liberty, in the following order: Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammo. We, the People, have the right and responsibility to ensure that our public servants are doing the job we’ve hired them to do. Transparency is the key. School administrators are permitted to be tin-pot dictators because the rules allow them to get away with it. Change the rules. Go to school board meetings (Soap-box). If the school board can not or is not willing to change, vote the bastards out (Ballot-box). The new school board will either be willing to change or had better have a damned good reason why they won’t. If this doesn’t get the job done, take ‘em to court (Jury box). Public servants should not be able to hide their actions from the public, and the courts are there to make sure they know it.

We haven’t got to the point of using the Ammo box. I hope we never do. So far, we the People have been able to use the other three boxes to keep control of our Government. An armed uprising to force school administrators to be responsible for their actions would be stupid. The expected benefit does not match the expected cost- not even close. So long as Soap, Ballot, and Jury boxes are working as intended, we have no need to resort to the Ammo box. Let’s keep it that way. Become active in your community politics. Circulate petitions, hold public meetings, and generally be a royal pain the ass to the Powers-That-Be. This is how participatory democracy is supposed to work.

If local politicians (School Board members are politicians- never forget that) fail to change their policies or clearly explain the reasons why they won’t, call in the hounds. Much as I despise the media, they can be put to good use. Get some local news coverage, and you’ll quickly find out whether or not your cause has public support. If it does, that public support can be used as a blunt instrument on the local politicos. If the story hits the internet, the local government could find itself receiving thousands of complaints on the subject in a matter of days. Public protests always get media attention, and politicians are (or should be) sensitive to that sort of pressure.

Robin Williams had a funny line in an otherwise execrable movie: “Politicians should be changed as regularly as diapers- and for the same reason.” Make sure your local politicians hear that message often. It makes ‘em nervous, and nervous politicians are a lot easier to deal with than the self-satisfied, smug, and arrogant bastards we’re stuck with.

Current status- Disgruntled

Current music- Old and Wise by Alan Parsons Project