The American Dream

June 3, 2011

Ahhh, the good ‘ol USA. As politicians and pundits start trickling into the useless babble forum known as the election cycle, we stupid little citizens will be hounded for money in a show of support for a particular candidate.

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Note: if you feel inclined to give, always bargain because the a-hole on the other end starts high…

  1. Tell ’em you don’ t have a job – they’ll lower the suggested amount. 
  2. Tell ’em you’re concerned about covering your bills – suggested amount drops more. 
  3. Tell them your dog has rectal cancer and needs to have his butt removed.

“Well, how about just $25 sir, Mr(s). X could really use your support?”  SOLD. Fluffy’s ass will just have to rot off on it’s own.

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And so the story goes…

Money flows in, propaganda flows out, and candidates try to convince you that they are not witches:

Idiots believe whatever the hell they are fed:

By ignorant assholes with loud voices like this guy:

Who aim simply to get ratings and lots of money:

Beck's ratings skyrocket

Beck's ratings skyrocket

But, sometimes egotists take shit too far, and even ignorant people turn on them:

Becks ratings drop by 1/3 in three months

Becks ratings drop by 1/3 in three months

All the while, the ‘better parts’ of society steep in their own self-righteousness, a sheer flatulence cloud of smug, if you will:

But, at the end of the day, through hanging chads (http://tinyurl.com/5wxe92g), malfunctioning voting machines(http://tinyurl.com/5gs3nz), stuffed ballot boxes and dead men voting (http://tinyurl.com/6zuqts5), “we the people” manage to exercising our 14th, I mean 15th, I mean 19th, I mean 23rd, I mean 26th amendment right, electing a motley crew of perverts, thieves and fraudsters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_political_scandals_in_the_United_States) to help us build the bold, the beautiful AMERICAN DREAM.

To make your own AMERICAN DREAM, following these simple steps

STEP 1: Create the worst maternity leave policy of all developed countries (Moms are just lazy, baby-making machines anyhow):

The quick stats (Full 2009 Report from LIS – http://www.lisproject.org/publications/parentwork/parent-leave-report.pdf) :

OUT OF 21 DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

  • US ranks 20th in unpaid permitted leave time for couples (24 weeks total)
  • US ranks dead last in paid maternity leave (USA provides $0 of paid maternity leave)
  • US ranks 11th in unpaid paternity leave (12 unpaid weeks for fathers…GO USA!)

STEP 2: Allow the financial system to be hijacked by massive, lobbying banks then pay them to correct the problem (Quantitative Easing for Dummies):

STEP 3: Widen the earnings and wealth gaps between the rich and the poor as far as possible:

Income Figures - CBO

Income Figures - CBO

STEP 4: Craft statistics to make people think getting a job is easier than it actually is (unemployed people like to set fire to tires on busy streets, this is bad, you don’t want this):

Jobless Figures - 3 versions

Jobless Figures - 3 versions

STEP 5: Underfund  education and slip to the bottom of the worldwide pile:

Education comparison worldwide

Education comparison worldwide

STEP 6: Let capitalism dictate the terms of your healthcare system:

Healthcare - Cost vs Quality

Healthcare - Cost vs Quality

Viola, you have just created your own little American Dream: Don’t get sick, have a baby, go to school, attempt to get a job, expect to make a decent salary, or trust anyone in finance.

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For a more uplifting read, check out my debut novel, Where’s Unimportant. Links to purchase on my website at www.danielshortell.com

debut novel available now

debut novel available now

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Extreme Fire Escape Gardening

May 26, 2011

So, you live in an apartment in the city, and two of your interests happen to be:

  1. picking through your neighbor’s trashcans
  2. watching shit grow
I have a hobby for you. First, you will need to entertain your first interest (most likely over the course of many days)…focus on the following:

Trash Statistics:

  • 2 dresser drawers (source: the curb in front of 471 41st Street) Remove those little bags of dog-shit dropped in by passersby, then cut drawers to right size
  • 21 plastic juice jugs (source: predominately the recycle bin at 475 41st Street. several from various cans on 5th Ave)
  • 3 random flowerpots (source: 276 Union Street trashcan, 386 2nd Street and 125 3rd Street)
  • 1 plastic pie cover (source: 468 41st Street recycle bin)
  • 2 speaker boxes (source: 4205 5th Avenue trashcan). Remove electronic components, speaker cones and dampening foam
  • 4 small clay pots (source: stolen from mom)
  • few random plastic containers (freakin’ jackpot…found these in the trashcan of my apartment building!)
  • 4 cubic feet of dirt (OK Hardware on 5th Ave- bring cash – Chinese-run store – they hate paying taxes)
  • 1 big ball of twine (The Hardware Store at 4103 5th…but don’t go back here again…the cashier’s a dick)

tools required: handsaw, drill, scissors, screwdriver, screws

47 plant garden 4 floors up

47 plant garden 4 floors up - 5/26/2011

After a successful root through your neighborhood cans, take all that shit, wash it off a bit, and start cutting it all to shape. Now, you don’t have a patio or any ground space to speak of, so you are going to need to close your eyes real quick and image that that decrepit pile of metal wiring hanging off your office window is actually a little, open-air walk-out space. Keep in mind that fire marshals probably have some sort of loosely worded code which pukes on about blocking fire escape routes, so do your best not to block the prime walking/climbing real estate. Instead, focus your efforts between the support bars, on top of the railing, on the sills and behind the ladder. If your neighbors complain and threaten to report you, act like you don’t speak English, or, if they live below you, threaten them back with a promise to overflow your bathtub. If they live above you, try violence. If they live above you and are bigger than you, perhaps you could make a peace offering by sharing some of your crops with them (especially the Habaneros).

Okay, so after you cut all that trash to size, drill lots of holes in the bottom of everything because vegetable plants like  moist soil and you will need to water often. But, be care not to make the soil sopping wet cause that’ll rot all those little root hairs, and you’ll end up looking like a total asshole at the end of the summer with nothing to show for apart from pissed neighbors and swinging trash bottles of dirt (not cool). So your trash is full of holes now. Grab that ball of twine and start stringing everything up in its appropriate place making certain to position the dangling pots in a manner which preserves the nice little view of the Upper Bay and Manhattan (note: the view will disappear relatively soon as all that shit grows up tall.)

fire escape garden

fire escape garden - 5/26/2011

Right, so all that trash has been washed off, you cut it all to size, drilled drain holes, hung things perfectly, filled your pots with dirt, planted your seedlings, threatened your neighbors and performed the initial watering. Now what? Well, take inventory of what you’ve got and figure out if there is any way to cram any more shit in. You may want to stage a second round of planting for a month later so as not to crowd out what you’ve already got.

Living Statistics:

47 plants total

  • 6 Habanero
  • 4 Cayenne
  • 4 Banana Pepper
  • 4 Pepperoncini
  • 4 Thai Chili
  • 4 Jalapeno
  • 4 Tabasco
  • 4 Hot Cherry Pepper
  • 1 Vietnamese Corriander
  • 1 Greek Oregano
  • 1 Thyme
  • 1 Basil
  • 1 Rosemary
  • 1 Mint
  • 1 Lavender
  • 1 Turmeric
  • 4 Spider Plants
  • 1 Random Succulent
looking out the window –

looking out the window - 5/26/2011

Ok, you’re looking pretty good, but impatience can be a bitch and those damn vegetables take a while to appear. Fortunately, you planted a few cayenne pepper plants, which, for some reason, crap out fruit before the plant is even big enough to hold it up. Cram a piece of wood down in the soil then tie up that bastard to the stalk of the cayenne…that’ll keep it from sagging, plus it makes you look all professional gardener. Chicks dig a man who can grow food, at least my wife does.

The first fruit

The first fruit - 5/26/2011

Ok, you are off and running. Try to time your waterings to occur when that douchebag on the second floor is out on his fire escape blasting his crap music…everybody likes a spontaneous rainfall. Don’t forget to put the blue water in your plants every couple of weeks, and if those stupid little white bugs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphid) start munching on your leaves, mix up the following concoction and blast their ass:

Organic Aphid Annihilator:

  • 1 quart of water
  • several drops of liquid soap (don’t use that scented or antibacterial crap, you’ll piss the plants off)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (not motor, like olive or canola…btw, what the hell is a canola anyway? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canola)
Let’s get together again in another month and take the pulse of this little garden. Deal?
Ok, check on the status of the garden in Extreme Fire Escape Gardening Part II
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In the meantime, check out my debut novel at www.danielshortell.com. And consider buying it. Not because it’s any good, but because it is a bargain at only $2.99 (yep, you can buy a year and a half of my labor for only three bucks…that’s either really cool or really sad)

New Laws Mulled After Westboro Baptist Church Supreme Court Win

April 10, 2011

About a month ago the Supreme Court, in an 8 to 1 decision, upheld Westboro Baptist Church’s right to picket the funerals of deceased US soldiers. The lone dissenter was Justice Samuel Alito, who, in a post-judgement  interview was quoted as saying, “I’ve never believed in the doctrine ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, and, I’m currently working with Congress to frame legislation which provides the federal government  a set of tools to centrally control this type of vitriol.”

Seemingly unaware of the concept of checks and balances, Alito continued, “Over the past couple of years, I have had numerous  discussions with Senator Lindsey Graham regarding a range of tools the federal government could employ to tamp down hate speech in America. One idea which has repeatedly surfaced as both low-cost and technologically viable, we’ve dubbed the Freedom Collar. This device, if implemented, would act as a deterrent to those who aim to inject ignorance and hatred into the public discourse, rightfully protecting the freedoms of those who wish to listen only to  points of view consistent with American values.”

Freedom Collar designed after the Bark Control Collar

“The Freedom Collar is quite a simple piece of technology, the program of which, could be managed under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security,” Graham said in a recent interview. “We are currently evaluating the efficacy of leveraging Navy Seals to covertly ‘collar’ targets identified for speech reduction, either while they sleep, or, while immobile on the toilet. Once we have collared all identified targets, we can configure each collar with a set of voice-recognized hate words and phrases which, if spoken, will automatically administer a medium-level shock directly to the throat of the target. The shock is not enough to injure the target, however, during prototype tests, 75% of administered shocks resulted in the assailant ‘pooing’ himself/herself, which, studies have revealed, should act as a strong second-level deterrent against hate speech.

Fred Phelps wearing a prototype of the Freedom Collar

Attorney General Eric Holder was sought for comment regarding the impending Freedom Collar proposal and was quoted as saying, “I’m not confident that the Justice Department will be able to endorse the Freedom Collar program, but, rest assured, the visual of Terry Jones crapping his pants while burning Qu’rans certainly resonates with my sense of comedy.”

someone paying a dear social price for hate speech

Jones thinking, to burn (then poop) or not to burn (then not poop), that is the question.

So, for those of you living with your head in your bum, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is a nutty little ‘institution’ hailing from Topeka, Kansas headed up by the looney Fred Phelps and comprise of a total of 71 members (most of whom, are related to Fred). Their vile rhetoric commonly appears at the funerals of US soldiers KIA and homosexuals murdered in hate crimes. Their inbred, white-trash message is a clear indication that free speech is alive and well in the good ‘ol USA.

Instead of validating as legitimate their message with a negative response, we should embrace their ignorance and be happy that our first amendment allows people this depraved to roam freely without being attacked. Imagine for a moment the type of response their hate speech would provoke in, say, some closed-off, tribal region of Afghanistan. Reason over ignorance…the power of intellectual evolution!

Taking a step back from the WBC’s choice of picket location (the funerals) and focusing solely on the un-targeted version of their message, one cannot, I think, succumb to the comedic lunacy of their beliefs. Yes, these people actually believe what they preach…unreal!

If this is your first time hearing about WBC, do yourself a favor and Google them for some comic relief, or, just check out Fred during one of his sermons:

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Check out my debut novel, Where’s Unimportant at http://www.danielshortell.com


Show Your Wife You Love Her by Ripping the Hair Out of Her Face

April 1, 2011

As I enter my sixth year of marriage,  it’s becoming increasingly difficult (or, shall I say challenging) to find fresh, new ways to show my wife that I love her. The passage of time makes us complacent, our daily routines become automatic as we navigate through the usual monotony of life. Every now and then though, we need to identify routines in our lives, smash them, and apply new solutions. By taking a step back and looking for alternatives, we create the possibility of discovering new talents, new skills we can share with our loved-ones to help rekindling a little of that new-marriage romance.

Recently, while stumbling through the boring weekly routine of tweezering the whiskers off my wife’s chin, I became frustrated, bothered by the limitations of even the highest quality tweezers. Each of the three pairs we own struggle with some of the more formidable challenges sprouting from her face. Each hair always seems either too thin, like a fuzzy, gossamery covering, or, too short, barely peaking above her skin’s surface. Both are very difficult to grasp with tweezers, and prolong a process which shouldn’t take very long.

Do You Know How to Thread?

Equipped with the motivation to make my wife’s face as hair-free as possible, I committed myself to learning the ancient Persian art of threading. I spent chunks of time watching YouTube vids, practiced my thread knotting and handling techniques, and, practiced hair-line-plucking on my own hide. With a honed technique, I showed-off my new talents to my wife, who, was, struggling with her little mirror on a Sunday evening, tweezering her lip stubble one sad little hair at a time.

Bottom-line, I stepped-in, and, in a rather short period of time,  ripped all unwanted hair (even the tiniest peach fuzz) from her face leaving behind a patch of skin so silky smooth it needed powder to reduce the shine. She was quick to brag about my new skill to her friends, who, now have this newfound revere for me like I have some kind of elusive salon credential. I play it as low-key as I can, afraid of my services being called upon.

So, the lesson here, do you and your wife a favor. Touch her in a way she’s never been touched before, and, watch her writhing pain melt into a look of awe-inspired love. Yes, rip that hair out of her face, and, she will love you for it.

Here is a decent instructional video to assist your learning (Warning – this video is purely instructional. It contains no entertainment value):

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Now that you are hair-free, go read my debut novel, Where’s Unimportant. Find it at http://www.danielshortell.com


On Restraining Oneself From Punching the Ice Cream Truck Guy in the Nose

March 30, 2011

Spring in New York City can be a magical time. As the painfully cold winter melts underfoot and the parks begin showing their colors, people sprout spontaneously from the sidewalks, pooling together, a reverie of urban rebirth. Fresh air, high spirits and solar-fueled energy hang over the city creating an affable tone seen clearly through the unusual frequency of smiling faces and selfless yielding. Don’t get me wrong here, you are still going to get flipped-off and honked at for not flooring it immediately when the light turns green, but, the vitriol feels less poisonous, a little less caustic. That finger still pops up, but, it’s not quite as angry as that mid-winter finger, rigid and icy-cold, looking like a spear ready to attack. Nope, springtime is in the air and brotherhood leaches through that shedding winter skin of many.

Unfortunately, it’s not all budding roses and smiling faces in Gotham. The warming temperatures not only bring out the frolicking children and lazy-eye parents, but, they also bring out a cadre of annoyances bent on disturbing the relative peace permeating the streets. Depending on your location in the city and the draws specific to that area, you may find yourself at conflict with the aspirations of a hardened few, brazen and determined to fulfill their agenda regardless of the cost to tranquility.

Stroll through Union Square and you are likely to be verbally accosted by crazy, bible-thumping zealots screaming bloody apocalypse to all. Take a late-afternoon walk through Park Slope and you could be bombarded in numerous locations by self-righteous, assertive hipsters hitting you up for donations to save whales or promote veganism. Play the role of tourist and navigate your way through a maze of aggressive street vendors on Canal Street yelling at you to buy their fake colognes or handbags. Or, come to my neighborhood in Sunset Park and be driven mad by some asshole in a Mister Softee ice cream truck who insists on parking directly in front of your building and blasting his shrill, looping 20-second attract track for hours at a time.

It’s painful, relentless and drowns out any other audible noise in the area. It stays with you, and, even when you can’t hear it you think you might be hearing it, so, you mute all other sounds attempting to hear it only to find that it has blithely attached itself to your subconscious brain, only audible in the deep recesses of your mind.

Appeals to reason with the truck operator are futile. Calls to the police are dismissed. Staging a protest is eccentric. Vandalism is a punishable offence, and, so is murder. But, at some point, the Mister Softee jingle consumes you, it corrodes your better parts, causing you to act in completely irrational ways. The following is just one man’s story:

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Check out my debut novel, Where’s Unimportant at http://www.danielshortell.com. Buy it, and, even if it sucks, you can use it to beat the shit out of your unfriendly neighborhood ice cream jerk.


Let’s kickoff this blog by increasing everyone’s blood pressure

March 18, 2011

Ahhh, it’s tax season again! That time of the year where you, responsible citizen of America, dig deep into your pocket to pay your fair share, playing an active role in our little game of representative government. So, what tax rate did you pay this year? 15%? 25%? 28%? Even more perhaps? Well, if you answered yes to any of the previous questions then you paid a substantially higher tax rate than many US-based corporations.

Here is a little sample for you:

Individual/Family Marginal Tax Rates vs. Actual Tax Rates for 7 Large US Corporations

Individual/Family Marginal Tax Rates vs. Actual Tax Rates for 7 Large US Corporations


If you want a little more detail, go here:
http://wallstcheatsheet.com/breaking-news/economy/the-top-7-corporate-tax-evaders.html

Another little tidbit…Ford (a corporation with 164,000 employees) awarded $34 million in stock bonuses to 18 senior executives. Compare this $34 million dollars in bonus compensation to the $69 million in federal taxes paid in 2010: http://www.stocksandshares.tv/ford-motor-company-nysef-executive-bonuses/3204888

Now, go take your blood pressure medicine and don’t worry about these trivial little inequalities. I’m sure someone is right on top of this, working hard to refine a flawed system and make it fair for all. Oh, don’t forget to file by April 15!!

Addendum – A closer peek at General Electrics tax avoiding tenacity: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html

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Want to make sure your money doesn’t go to big evil? Spend it on my debut novel, Where’s Unimportant. None of the money will find its way into the pockets of resource-sucking corporations. Find it at http://www.danielshortell.com