Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Smoking, or Non?

So I was just standing outside the building where my office is located, smoking a cigarette. There's a little hybrid Buick SUV out there with a sign in the window that says, and I quote: "If you had quit smoking 10 years ago [I have, incidentally, been smoking for about 10 years], the money would have save could have bought yourself a brand new car." Of course, there is an implicit conclusion: Therefore, you should have quit smoking ten years ago, and are fucked now.

I'm not even going to go into the grammatical problems with the sign.

What the sign was trying to tell me was that if I had quit smoking a decade ago, I would, today, right now, be going out to buy that SUV, or one just like it, or already have that SUV, or one just like it. But it's a bullshit argument.

First of all, I haven't the slightest desire to own an SUV. Even a hybrid one.

But even if I wanted the SUV, I would not have it today if I had never started smoking. Do you see non-smokers driving around in brand new cars all the time? Of course not. Why? Because non-smokers do not put the five dollars that they would have spent on cigarettes away in some special bank account every day. They just don't do that. That five dollars gets spent on something else. What? I can't say. It's in our nature to spend money. We do it compulsively and without joy.

Perhaps this is just the American Way. Most Americans don't save money at all. They almost always buy on credit and pay back later. This being the reason we're in the financial crisis we appear to be in. Perhaps the argument on the sign would hold true in Singapore. Or perhaps Germany. It seems to me that those are countries where they save money and don't buy on credit.

Now, if I had good credit--which I don't--I could go out and buy that SUV today and drive around in it, and smoke in it all I want and I would flip the bird at the smug asshole that parked his SUV on the lawn today to tell me I'll save money by not smoking.

The bottom line? People do not save money by not smoking. Oh, sure they might have a few more material things here and there, but not really. They'd probably spend that money on equally frivolous things. Like iPods. Blackberries. Incidentally, I own an iPod. And I'm a smoker.

What the sign might as well say is, "If you had quit smoking ten years ago, you would have saved enough money to buy yourself a ten-year supply of cigarettes."

At least that would make me laugh.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Sad Despot

Imagine for a moment that you are the most hated man in America. The people that still like you are degenerate southerners who are too wrapped up in God and homeschooling their children (to make sure they aren't exposed to evolution and secularism) and so-called "freedom" to give two shits about the mayhem that you have wrought.

Imagine for a moment that in just a few months it will all be over and you can retire with your wife to your estate in Texas and relax for a change. No more CIA reports. No more people constantly asking for your opinion. No more being the decider. No more having to think about it.

Imagine knowing, deep down inside, that it was you who cost your party the election, and not, as some might have it, the Beauty Queen.

Do you think that you'd be relieved right now? Do you think that after 8 years of slogging through hell with people constantly calling you names, questioning your intelligence, loyalty, qualification, grooming habits, that eventually it wouldn't get to you?

Maybe he was able to let things like that wash off him like a duck in a downpour, but I have my doubts. Everyone has doubts. Everyone doubts himself or herself every day. And if you were so arrogant to think that you truly deserved to be president, if you were so thoroughly deranged as to truly believe that God put you in the position that you were in--and not the American electorate, or, as the case may be, the Supreme Court--then you'd almost have to be labeled a megalomaniac and a crazy person. It is only with the utmost humility that anyone should accept the office of President of the United States because nobody is actually qualified for a job like that.

Personally, I think he put up a good front, but you can see how its worn at him. He's gotten old. He's sixty-two. He looks a lot older. In a strange way, it's kind of hard to hate him, for me. I mean, he's such a clown! You can't hate a man who got in over his head. You can be horrified that a monkey has that kind of power, but you can't hate the monkey. And if you do, then maybe you need to think of the mistakes that you might have made. He was--still is--a terrible president, but at the most you can just dislike his politics and bad decision making. Anything else would be irrational.

Things are supposedly going to change now. "Yes we can!" is a rallying cry for millions of Americans, but if you think for one second that, even if the new guy plays everything perfectly, it's not going to hurt, then you're out of your mind. He's going to ask us to tighten our belts. He's going to ask us to make sacrifices. The old guy never did that and The People re-elected him for it. He told us to just keep on as if nothing ever happened, even though he reminded us every five minutes. And The People didn't really get it until a couple years ago.

"Ask not...etc."

If shit gets tough, are you going to be responsible for voting him out for the beauty queen in 2012? If the new guy means you won't be able to buy the plumbing company you work for, are you going to feel slighted? If you are asked by the President of the United States of America not to buy that new TV or SUV, are you going to listen? Maybe it depends on how he phrases it.

He hinted at some of this in his acceptance speech. But they were just hints.

It's going to be a very interesting four years.