Thursday, December 31, 2015

Random Thoughts, Vol. 7

It has been a hideous year. A wretched, stinking, hideous year. It was the kind of year that immerses you in hopelessness. The kind of year where even a raise was turned on its head and became a liability.

Not surprisingly, the thoughts that collect in your brain resemble the pus that pools in an open wound. They are yellowish and opaque and resemble congealed gravy.

Most of them are sour. A few are jocular. Some aspire to profundity. Of course, there is a difference between aspire and success. Consider this your warning.

This is the caustic send-off 2015 deserves. You will be exultant to see it pass. And if it doesn't, you will cut it out with a knife—with or without anesthesia.

Is there a more-perfectly named basketball player than Tim Duncan?

The tragedy of the eighties was that Hinckley missed and Chapman didn't.

If the Koch brothers earned a combined $910,000 per hour in 2015, can't we make $15?

The FBI processed more background checks in 2015 than in any other year on record, meaning more fire arms were purchased than ever before. Are we safe yet?

Does former Bears coach Lovie Smith deserve early consideration for the Hall of Fame because he reached the Super Bowl with a team quarterbacked by Rex Grossman?

If not for wrapping your brain around the myriad of exclusions, exceptions and conditions that affect your coverage, predicting your needs for the coming year and dealing with the reams of paperwork that arrive (none of which contains the bill—at least until three days before it's due)—all under the threat of a government-imposed fine—we wouldn't need health insurance.

Is there a more-appropriately named street in America than Wall Street?

Do black lives matter only when they're taken by white hands?

Anyone who votes for Donald Trump deserves Donald Trump. But leave those of us with IQs out of it, OK?

And speaking of America, wasn't it a great idea?

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Potpourri of Peevishness

What a month. And that's not even counting the personal drama.

First off, Martin Shkreli has been arrested. Is it really a surprise that a bag of shit from Wall Street would turn a pharmaceutical business into an extortion racket? Or that the hedge fund he once managed wasn't exactly above board?

No wonder Bernie Sanders has an audience.

A year and-a-half after her conviction, the execrable Heather Mack has suddenly remembered why she had her boyfriend whack her mom in the head with a blunt object and stuff her body in a suitcase: mom was stealing her inheritance.

In an attempt to prove she has a particle of humanity left, Mack expressed the wish that in spite of mom's sticky fingers, she hopes the deceased is resting in peace.

Only because of you, Heather. Only because of you.

Then there's the once-honorable college football bowl game.

In the everybody-gets-a-trophy fashion that is, well, fashionable right now, the NCAA seems unable to resist adding a few more every year, even past the point of relevance. (Not that football fans would know the difference.)

Unless you're journeying to one because it's being played in a locale where wind chill is defined as what happens when the air conditioning hits you after you step out of the shower, I pity you.

Finally, is anyone disturbed by the sight of our electronic media further corrupting our electoral process by relentlessly airing the latest episode of What Did Donald Say Today?, as opposed to kinda-sorta discourse on actual issues?

Or coverage of those other candidates from that other party?

The Republican party has willingly turned its nominating process into a circus side show, and I say fine. Great. Whatever. But by breathlessly broadcasting every syllable Trump spews into a TV camera, the media are aiding and abetting his cheapening of the process.

What's that? The ratings and the advertising revenue are off the charts?

Oh, okay.

Leave it to us to put a price on what was once priceless.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


We at The Square Peg wish to refute a terrible and misleading rumor.

To wit, tonight's Republican debate is not—repeat not—going to be carried on the Cartoon Network.

It will be broadcast, as originally scheduled, on CNN.

This rumor not only undermines the solemnity of the political electoral process, but of the candidates themselves. And as we hasten to point out, that is our job.

Thank you and have a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

300 Million Guns Can't Be Wrong—Can They?

The French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr is credited with coining the phrase “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

After a century, a decade and a year of unrivaled carnage, we in America are still debating why gun violence happens so often here and so seldom in the rest of the first world.

Mine is admittedly an uninformed, off-the-cuff, left field guesstimate, but I kind of think it might be the guns.

The security experts in the NRA keep telling us America's problem isn't the three-hundred million guns coursing through our national bloodstream, it's the billions of guns that aren't. 

Yes, despite what you see on the network news and on the Internet, America suffers from a gun deficiency.

Despite being oh-so-close to the one-gun-per-person ideal advocated by the NRA, America remains the most dangerous first world country on Earth. 

How can this be?

The experts need a re-think.

Allow them a sabbatical and some time to do some serious woodshedding, and they will emerge to inform us that no, the optimal ratio which will ensure America's safety is actually two to one.

Given still-more time, a mounting pile of bullet-riddled corpses and stubborn, unanswered questions and they will again retreat and again emerge.

This time they will explain that their critical error was in leaving one hand unarmed; that it is the one gun per hand model which will finally keep America safe and secure.

And despite the evidence all around us to the contrary, we will believe them.

Even past the point of there being anything to protect.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Waiting Room

I was in a waiting room when I first heard the news. Yet another mass slaying had occurred. This time, fourteen were dead.

As the wall-mounted TV relayed the details, the faces of the half-dozen people within remained unconcerned as they sat absorbed by their smart phones.

Wait, this isn't about me? OK.”

There was a disconnect from the people in Southern California, because they were in one place and we in another and it had happened to them and not to us.

Is this what the insularity of technology and social media hath wrought?

As the electronic media rehashed their facts over and over and over, I wondered what role they played in our emotional distancing. Like Aesop's boy who cried wolf, our media has certainly confirmed how quickly we can become calloused.

And me?

I become enraged when confronted with the specter of innocent people being pierced by metal projectiles fired by a stranger dozens or even hundreds of feet away. Especially when they are guilty only of existing.

I rage at the shooter, I rage at the NRA, I rage at the politicians who endorse this in exchange for campaign financing, and out of cowardice.

Instead of endlessly reciting stale facts, why doesn't our media contact Wayne LaPierre for his thoughts on the carnage?

Mr. LaPierre, as CEO and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, a special interest group which has tirelessly and unswervingly dedicated itself to the saturation of our country with all manner of guns and assault weapons, what—if anything—do you feel your connection to the events of this afternoon is?”

Contrast for our viewers how much money the NRA spends promoting gun safety, which is ostensibly the NRA's reason for being, versus what it spends combating gun control legislation and the closing of big, fat loopholes which enable gun ownership?”

Is this evidence of a country with far too many guns far too easily accessed, or as you have remarked in the past, a security problem? Which we hasten to point out in your definition means too many people with not enough guns.”

Finally Mr. LaPierre, what would you tell the families of today's shooting victims? Their parents? Their spouses? Their children? Their siblings?”

This, of course, is fantasy. LaPierre would no more agree to appear than our corporate media would think of calling him.

I dream of handing out Thank You NRA! t-shirts in the wake of such events, if only to provoke new conversation. A different stream of thought.

Again I fantasize.

I ponder the inveterate sadness of our mass shooting statistics, and look at the confines of the waiting room. I wonder if it isn't a whole lot larger than I'm aware of.