Category Archives: angry rant

The Wheels of the Stupidity Cycle

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Sadly, the Flynn Effect is working now in reverse.  If you didn’t know, for decades the collective IQ of the United States has been increasing.  People have been getting smarter.  Improvements in education, health care, and diet had been making it possible for each succeeding class year to score better by a significant and steady amount every year over the students of the previous year.  Apparently, according to recent data analysis, it kept going up through the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and the 80’s.

And then, in about 1991, people began to be born who were destined to do worse than their predecessors.  People stopped getting smarter.  In fact, they not only leveled out, they began to get dumber.  Bummer.  As a teacher who taught during that time period, I have to pause and wonder… was it my fault?

I want to be clear about my use of illustrations here.  Not all of the faces I used in the collage above are actually stupid people.  I am told Rowan Atkinson (who plays an idiot character named Mr. Bean) is actually a genius with a very high IQ.  And some of the faces are not even from actual people.  They are cartoon characters or animals or Donald Trump.  And none of them actually caused the decline of IQ scores.  (Although I can’t prove the actor Brendan Fraser didn’t cause it by making the movie George of the Jungle.)

Economic factors brought about by the Reagan Revolution probably caused the wheel of life to turn back towards the stupid end of the cycle.  Rich people began sucking up and keeping every dollar possible, making themselves impossibly rich, and leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs.  McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King turned the poorer suburbs into virtual food deserts of no nutritional value in every major urban area.  Schools across the nation have been forced to teach to tests whose main and sometimes only purpose is to prove schools undeserving of their funding so States can shift that funding towards private and for-profit schools.  Starved for proper funding, it is only natural that schools turned from learning institutions into baby-sitting services and uniformity indoctrination centers.  Schools now put out only average and poor students because that was the goal of education reform all along in conservative minds.

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So what, exactly, should we do about it?  Well, the wheel will still turn.  And as all wheels do, the part that is on the bottom will return to the top, and stupid will return to bottom as it obviously has before.

The next century is rife with problems that threaten human life on Earth.  Those problems, like income inequality, climate change through corporate abuse of the environment, the nuclear threat, and Donald Trump, will have to be solved by the next generation’s smart people.  When they do solve all those problems, the world will be better for it… or destroyed.  One of those.

And don’t mistake my meaning.  Stupid people have their own value.  Clowns like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, and Seth Meyers are doing a far better job of helping us understand the issues of today than the nightly news is.  There is a great deal of fun to be had in watching the cat-and-mouse game of Robert Mueller and Donald Trump (where Trump is not the mouse so much as the cheese the mouse ate to start all the slapstick brouhaha).

And people who are not particularly smart can have great value in an infinite number of other ways.  Simple people may never be able to do calculus, but they can make you smile and feel loved better than some of the sharpest intellects (who often tend towards cynicism and bitterness).

The wheels of the Stupidity Cycle will continue to turn because that is the very nature of wheels. We will eventually be smart again.  We can’t keep getting dumber forever (though we did elect Trump).  And this is a pessimist telling you this.  So if this is completely wrong and off base, remember, I am also trying to be positive about the future.

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Filed under angry rant, education, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, Paffooney

Uber Crazy

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I have to admit it.  I have been driving for Uber.  I, like many who are doing the same, need the extra money, and can’t manage any other way.  I wanted to work in a grocery store, or something else where I could put in regular hours and make at least minimum wage to supplement my shrinking pension income.  But my health is not sound enough to hold a job where I have to work every day for a set number of hours.  I am only well enough to work about ten hours a week, and then only when my arthritis isn’t crippling me, my diabetes isn’t making me stupid, and other factors aren’t overwhelming me with upset stomach, psoriatic itchiness making me scratch myself bloody in all the wrong places, or having trouble simply getting enough oxygen to stay among  the living.  Uber works for me because I can go do it any time day or night that I feel well enough to do it.  But the job involves a bit of craziness along the way.

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One thing that makes it crazy is the way Uber drivers have, as a group, developed a somewhat sketchy identity.  Sure, they sometimes aid superhero actors who play Doctor Strange and Sherlock Holmes in saving people from attackers (You know, that Bandersnatch Cummerbund guy).  But they also get tried for raping or robbing passengers.  They get into bizarre accidents and shoot their passengers.  How do you convince the female passenger that it is safe to trust you despite the scruffy beard and homeless guy ambiance you are stuck with due to poor health?  Certainly you are aware that you look like a serial killer, right?

man_file_1061878_uber-driver-be-likeAnd back-seat drivers all have visions of the bloody, fiery car crash you are going to put them through in return for their $5.00 riding fee.

But given a chance, I can drive like a master.  I had a daily commute that was 30 miles long (45 stop lights) one way that I spent hours practicing on before and after school for a total of 4 hours a day for 180 days a year for a space of 7 years.  Passengers have gasped when they see the threats coming at us from two lanes over at twenty-miles-an-hour-faster-than-the-speed-limit, but breathe a sigh of relief when I avoid the impact by several feet.  I watch twenty things at once in Dallas-area traffic.

Lately though, I have been limiting myself to food deliveries. I have a car that. due to a faulty heat sensor that has defied recall repair three times, constantly thinks it is suffering from engine overheating, so that, in order to keep going, I must roll down the windows and put the heater on full blast.  That doesn’t sit well with passengers in Texas heat.  But it means I must endure a high-speed Easy-Bake Oven ride while driving.  And today, when I parked at the main office of the apartment complex and walked the meal to the appropriate apartment, which was as it always is, on the far side of the entire complex, I got locked inside.  I couldn’t get back out through any of the security gates because I didn’t have a car to activate the pressure plates at the exit.  And the Spanish-speaking maintenance man who let me in the place was nowhere around to let me out again.  And the next meal delivery was waiting for me to pick it up at Taco Bueno, not getting any warmer while it sat on the counter. I had to squeeze my jelly belly through the narrow opening between the two sides of the security gate.  This I was able to successfully do only probably because the mad dash through the hot sidewalks of the apartment complex had lost me just enough weight to make it.

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Given the option, I would really rather still be teaching.  Uber driving is a crazy way to make money.  But we do what we can actually do in life, and at least I get a funny story or two to tell about later… if I manage to survive the next Uber drive.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, humor, memes, self pity, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The 13th Sense

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I know that you are probably thinking, “What the heck are you thinking, Mickey?  There are really only five senses!”

And I am probably thinking, (ignoring the fact that I should know for certain what thinking is present at least in my own stupid head), “Oh, I think you are probably wrong about that, considering carefully that I should only think this and not say it out loud, because people get mad when you suggest that you are smarter than they are.”

Besides the five senses we all claim of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, there is also that one people often refer to as “the sixth sense”, and by that phrase they don’t necessarily mean that you “see dead people who don’t know they are dead”.  Instead, that sense is kinda like a sense of intuition.  A feeling that you simply know what is about to occur, or you know something about something that you could only really know if you have ESP…   Or if you are Spiderman, it is your “Spider Sense”… wiggly lines radiating from your comic-book head.

And what about the sense of hot and cold?  Or the sense that you can’s breathe the air in the same room with your cigar-smoking Republican uncle, you know, the one with all the toxic opinions you are forced to listen to too often?  And there’s a sense of contentment.  Or the sense of happiness.  A sense of dread.  There are all kinds of senses that your magnificent stupid-old brain constantly responds to that you really haven’t been counting.

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Of course, I am not writing about any of those today.  I am writing about that old “Sense Number Thirteen”, the sense of certainty that every pessimist lives by, the sense that your natural daily bad luck won’t kill you today, but only because it would all be over and prevent more suffering if it did.

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Yes, it is Sense Number Thirteen that makes you prepare yourself for the worst, because you simply have the sense that it is destined to happen.  I dread going to the mailbox.  I know I will hate what I find there.  This week I found a letter from the IRS, who has already accepted my 2017 return and the first installment of my tax payment, suggesting that they may reopen my case in order to determine if I owe them more money.  And I got the hospital bill that I have been dreading because I cannot afford to pay it.

I dread walking the dog also because there are two pickup trucks, one black and one silver, that routinely roar through the 30-mile-an-hour neighborhood doing sixty or seventy.  One of them is going to run over my dog while she has me on the leash, or maybe even run over one of neighbor Frank’s grandchildren.  Anyway, we are preparing by organizing a neighborhood petition and complaining to the police. The Thirteenth Sense really screws with my life. But it forces me to prepare.

The hospital payment department told me that they are going to send paperwork that will help me pay the debt by forgiving part of it, since I am already bankrupt over medical bills.  I was taken pleasantly by surprise by that.  I have so far successful avoided thinking about the IRS.  Those jack-booted shock troops apparently aren’t going to show up at my door until next week.  And the police cruiser has been on our street twice already since I last talked to Frank, and they put out one of those speed limit signs that shows you in bright red lights how much over the speed limit you are going.

So, there’s the saving grace.  A pessimist gets to be happier in the long run than the optimist. By preparing for the worst, the pessimist is ready for the bad thing to happen, and either deals with it as it comes, or is pleasantly surprised at an outcome devoid of extra suffering.  A pessimist is never taken by surprise for the worse.  I’m glad I have a 13th Sense.  It helps me be a HAPPY stupid old pessimist.

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, pessimism

Debt and Doubt

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I sincerely tried to get out of debt when I had to retire as a teacher.  I managed to shed $23,000 worth of my $35,000 of debt before being sued by Bank of America.  The lawsuit forced me into bankruptcy.  Five years of debt-reduction belt tightening and poverty has not turned into a new $35,000 worth of debt including lawyer fees.  And on top of that I have to add about $6,000 of hospital debt and $1300 worth of IRS tax payments.   Instead of solving my debt problem, I have only added to it.  Dying in a manner that will leave my family debt free is now out of reach.  And yesterday I got a notice from the IRS suggesting I may still owe them more.

I am led to these conclusions;

  1. Bankers are pirates and villains.  Especially Bank of America bankers.
  2. Lawyers are too expensive, especially when they are the only ones on your side.
  3. I am no different than a farmer’s cow.  Cows get milked for actual milk.  I get milked every single day for multiple dollars, most of it in the form of debt.
  4. The game is rigged against creative and intelligent people.  You cannot make money as a novelist.
  5. To get ahead you have to be stupid and have no morals.  That is why Trump always succeeds.
  6. But if you can ignore poverty and the disadvantages it brings, life is still wonderful and is worth living.  I don’t need an angel named Clarence to help me see that.

If this essay seems like it has not fully addressed this theme, that’s because it hasn’t.  Many more essays on this topic are coming… God willing.

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Dealing With Falling Apart

2017 was not a good year for me financially. And nuclear winter could also be referred to as, “an unfortunate change in the weather”. I was sued by Bank of America because I had the audacity to try to reduce my debt with the aid of a debt reduction company. The lawyer originally assured me that I would probably get a reduced settlement bill. Instead, I lost the case and had to declare bankruptcy. The city was objecting to the swimming pool needing repair and forced us to have it removed at our own expense at the same time the BoA lawyers were eating my whole pie. And then, when so many were getting at least some tax relief from Trump’s tax cut for rich folk, I had to pay over a thousand dollars because of retroactive accounting errors.
I also got a week’s vacation in the hospital that cost lots of money because it was a an emergency room visit under heart attack conditions, but determined that I wasn’t actually having a heart attack without the added benefit of telling me what went wrong that put me in the hospital in the first place. I am now suffering numerous warning signs of heart attack or stroke without the confidence that I can go to the doctor without another hospital vacation I can’t pay for.
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I deal with it by biting the bullets, paying the bills, and buying myself bargain toys. The Astronaut Barbie play set came from the Walmart post-Christmas Clearance Sale shelves. It cost me less than half of its original price.


The Captain Cassian Andor action figure with barely pose-able inaction joints cost me less than $4 at Ross Dress For Less while I was waiting for my wife to do her shopaholic thing. And Goodwill Barbie got repaired and dressed, even though I had to borrow G.I. Joe pants to keep her from being a bottomless bare semi-nudist. Toys don’t make the headaches go away, but I am a little bit less grumpy and foul-tempered when I play with them. Plastic toys tend to treat you a whole lot better than bankers or Trump or city pool inspectors do.

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Filed under angry rant, collecting, doll collecting, feeling sorry for myself, humor, photo paffoonies, photos

Urgh! The Taxman Cometh

I am now incapable of coherent thought.  Wait!  Did that last sentence make sense?  I guess I am not dead yet.  So I have avoided the Grim Reaper,  But not the Taxman!

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The book I need to take more seriously now.

I wasn’t expecting to make the kind of money from Trumpig’s “Big beeyootiful tax cut” will provide to his wealthy-pig friends.  I have no illusions about him ever doing anything to benefit me.  But I figured I shouldn’t have to pay extra.

Stupid me.

Somehow Trumpig’s tax cut affected the withholding amount for my pension taxes.  Something like $120 a month that retroactively applied to all twelve months last year.  I still owe the government $1,320!

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I had planned to finish up taxes yesterday evening and then get a good night’s sleep.  Then I saw that tax bill and didn’t sleep a wink.  I am already in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy because Bank of America sues people for more than you owe them if you make the mistake of hiring a debt reduction company to help you pay off credit cards.  But the universe is obviously adverse to me making and keeping any money at all before I am riding in a hearse.  Wait!  Did I just lapse into bad poetry?  Death and taxes will mess with your head, that’s for sure.

So now I need a day off to just sleep and feel sorry for myself. I’ll get angry at Trumpig tomorrow and decide how I will handle this latest hurdle in the human race… or human obstacle course… or whatever that stupid metaphor was I cannot even remember any more.

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Word Salad and Idea Casserole

In a world filled with interesting and engaging ideas, I get frustrated with the constant barrage of word salad on social media tossed at me by conservative friends.  As Trump seems to be coming closer and closer to ending his administration with his own chaotic behavior, those who supported him are tossing more and more flavorless lettuce and rotted vegetables in the mix.  I have to resist the urge to throw the same thing back at them.  I do not resist such salad-making well.  Witness my attempts to alter this stupid meme from a friend;

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I admit, I kinda barfed half-digested word salad all over this one.  I get tired of debating the issues only to be insulted like this and then accused of only insulting Trump and avoiding what they call the “Real Issues”, like Hillary giving a gazillion per cent of our uranium wealth to the Russians and Obama being the one guilty of colluding with Russians.

But, enough of that.  It is time to make something healthier out of words and ideas.  I have a lot of things on my mind, and I want to get a lot of them said before I die.  So let me make some idea casserole, cooking a whole lot of very different ideas into one multivitamin dish.

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  • Trump, for all the damage he’s done, will end up being good for us if we can just survive his administration to the end.  Scar tissue is always tougher than the surrounding flesh when the wound heals.  Repairing the damage he has done will leave us stronger, wiser, and more able to cope with the root causes of the Trump phenomenon.
  • My friends and family who supported the whole Trump mess primarily to hurt people whom they feel are smarter than them and so more stuck-up and self-important than them, will eventually get back to leading more productive lives than they did before.  And they will continue not to credit the ones who actually made that happen the way they didn’t credit Obama for healing the blunders of Bush.
  • I will get back to writing gentler, non-political-type humor novels.
  • I have my novel Superchicken half-way through the final edit to publish it on Amazon Kindle.  You can see I have been playing with cover ideas.  I plan to write Sing Sad Songs next.  Also I have two more novel ideas that I will add to this casserole as separate ingredients.  And I have The Bicycle Wheel Genius, Recipes for Gingerbread Children, and The Baby Werewolf finished and ready to edit as well.
  • Here’s new idea number one; The Boy Who Lived Forever is a fantasy novel about Icarus Jones coming to stay with the Jones family of Norwall.  He has survived a house fire that killed his parents and now must evade the dragon that pursues him while trying to figure out what is wrong with him health-wise.  Could he be dying?  Or did he survive the fire because he somehow can’t die?
  • Here’s new idea number two; Kingdoms Under the Earth is a fantasy novel about Blueberry Bates, a troubled young girl, falling seriously ill, and the measures her boyfriend, Mike Murphy, and her friends have to take in a realm made of magic and fever dreams to save her.

The truth is I really can’t do anything about politics and government beyond expressing my beliefs and voting my conscience.  I need to concentrate on telling stories.  It is the one thing that still gives my life meaning through the pain, illness, and suffering.  I am not dead yet.  And, not being dead, I need to be writing.

 

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, imagination, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, politics, strange and wonderful ideas about life