How to Dystopian Justice

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After getting in a fight with a friend over the justification of killing sexual predators instead of making them serve long prison sentences—thereby, arguably, burdening the taxpayer unduly—I’ve slept on the matter, given it further thought, and determined that perhaps there is a way to give my friend (and all supporters of capital punishment), as well as those like myself (those who oppose capital punishment) a fair compromise. Of course, the compromise is a complete and utter dystopian nightmare, inviting fraud, waste and abuse, but if the world can accept that, then my solution ought to be considered.

Step 1. Legalize euthanasia
Step 2. Give all sexual predators mandatory life sentences
Step 3. Give all prisoners the right to receive euthanasia, but only if at least one doctor and one psychologist sign off, declaring that the prisoners are receiving a significantly diminished quality of life
Step 4. After one year, require all prisoners serving life terms to receive evaluations on their health, psychology, and quality of life.
Step 5. Grant the prisoner mercy.

Psychologists: Select a prisoner, evaluate him or her: inquire about his or her experience, about his emotional condition, and determine his quality of life, but do not inform the prisoner that this is the point of the evaluation.

Doctors: Select a prisoner and evaluate him or her: check his or her vitals, search for bruises, breaks, any sign of physical trauma or ailment, and follow up with personal, leading questions about his or her quality of life.

After at least one doctor and one psychologist has signed off, issue orders for the release of the prisoner into the custody of the chief medical doctor of the prison. If the prisoner asks where he or she is going, simply inform them that he or she is simply being released into the doctor’s custody.

After the prisoner has arrived, confine him or her to a chair in a special examination room. Place a mask dispensing nitrous oxide over the nose of the prisoner until the prisoner has been rendered unconscious. Afterwards. administer a syringe cocktail, consisting of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride.

Mercy granted. Justice served. Mischief managed.

You’re welcome. ;)

Re: Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK

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Dear readers: I am writing this as a response to the conservative author, Matt Walsh, for his insensitive and unrealistic article about raising food service workers’ wages.

Now, before I start, let me state the following: I’ve worked in food service for over thirteen years, and I think it’s safe to say that this is what I do; this is what I am really good at; and it is because I have spent so much time and service in this industry that I feel qualified to say that Matt Walsh clearly does not understand the problem. To elucidate, I have some facts for you to consider:

Fact: higher education isn’t for everyone, and attaining it is unnecessarily costly.

Fact: not all food service workers make standard hourly wages: many make less than half of state minimum wage, and are expected to make up the difference in tips. (Depending on where you work, you may never make up the difference.)

Fact: plenty of people start families early, whether planned or unplanned; it’s their choice to make, and it’s not our place to judge.

Fact: there is no such thing as a stepping-stone job: there are those who, like me, will make something of a career out of this line of work; but everybody else will take whatever jobs are hiring and/or for which they are qualified. (This is most especially true during recessions, where many employees’ only other options are receiving financial treatments from family, friends, payday loan sharks or, God-forbid, the state.)

Fact: because food service workers do tend to make shoddy wages, many employees receive state assistance, and they still do not live even close to comfortably.

Fact: in the restaurant industry, it is common practice to hire predominantly part-time workers, which disqualifies many employees from working over-time, or receiving many of the benefits that the companies advertise; as a result, many employees work two or more jobs just to pay their bills, yet will never receive compensation for working over forty hours.

Fact: no one is saying that the occupations the author listed off (such as those of teachers, emergency medical technicians, police officers, dental assistants, etc.) should be equivalent in pay to food service workers. (Surely their salaries are over-due for a pay raise, too!)

Fact: it may be difficult for small business to afford to make such wage adjustments, but larger businesses have no excuse, if and when the laws support those changes.

So, let me be frank: if the Capitalist whores who call themselves “job creators” would stop sending jobs overseas, then perhaps many of us in the food service industry would seek training in those other lines of work, when they are once again available. As it is, our malefactors have out-sourced American labour, and taken advantage of poor countries and exploited their labour markets, with their piss-poor wage laws, and their gross lack of health and safety standards. And this Trans-Pacific Partnership bill will only make matters worse.

Now, it is true that there is more value in skilled labour than food service; but we are, predominately, a service-based economy and, as a result, we’re all struggling to get by. And it’s not our fault, either; it’s just the nature of capitalism: an ideology that has no moral imperative except to grow, grow, grow. Capitalism does not value human life; humans are just a tolerated means to an end. Capitalism does not acknowledge the social consequences of its actions, and it flatly refuses to make amends for the damage it has done.

That said, let’s walk a quarter of a mile through a scenario, many aspects of which we all share in this line of work.

Let’s say you’re a stay at home wife, and mother whose husband just up and died on you. Up until now, your husband was, and had always been, the sole source of income in your household, and he made just enough for you all to live bearably mostly.

So here you are: you have no skills outside of cooking and cleaning, possibly thrifty spending habits, and child-rearing; and now you have to go out and find work. You’re thirty-years old, you have three children, you don’t have time to go back to school; but you absolutely need to get out there and find a job. Anyway, at your age, the probability of you receiving higher education gets slimmer with each passing day. So you get a job, flipping burgers at McDonald’s, at minimum wage.

It’s been a year now. You work hard—harder than some, but just as hard as most—helping to generate thousands of dollars in revenue for the company, every shift, but haven’t gotten even a five-cent increase since you started.

You know that you’ll probably be doing this the rest of your life because 1. this is the only job you really know and, 2. the older you get, the harder it is to find work outside of food service, and 3. by the time you’re old enough to qualify for social security, social security will have already run out.

So you stick with Mickey D’s, but you still try to find other work, especially during the seasons when everyone’s cutting hours. The problem is, with your lack of skills, you don’t have many options outside of food service, and those you do have are still just minimum wage-paying service jobs.

Meanwhile, you’re not just living by yourself, and you have three mouths to feed for another twelve years, with the oldest; fifteen for the youngest. And, of course, you know there’s not going to be any money in their college funds; as you already cashed out all of your savings, early on, just to pay rent.

Suffice to say, your story may not have a happy ending. You may well die alone, and in poverty, and with nothing to show for a lifetime of misery.

Matt Walsh would probably tell you to “suck it up”, and that it’s “just a rung on the ladder”. But then, perhaps he is unaware that not everyone gets to climb the same ladders, or that many of them don’t go up that high. Nor that there are still those few who reach up, grasping for that which is not there; as their toes tremble and their knees buckle, and they try not to fall from their precarious position, perched atop a slippery stool.

An Uninvited Guest

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After a long, grueling day at work, you get home and set down the bag of soft drinks you picked up from the gas station on your way. You’re tired, you’re thirsty, and suddenly, you’re struck motionless, petrified with fear over the horror now crawling out of the sack and onto your kitchen counter. Apparently you picked up a hitchhiker from the gas station and he’s decided to make your place his new home.

Slowly, patiently, you move a quiet hand past your peripheral vision, searching for a spray bottle, only to find none. The creature doesn’t seem to notice your blind efforts, but scurries along, anyway, in search of a quick meal. Your patience, being a thinly veiled facade, begins to unravel as you search desperately in the air for some liquid you can pour over it. Just then, you find a bottle of hot sauce—and a very hot one it is!—perhaps this will set the pest ablaze as it has your own taste buds countless times over?

Take that! And you miss. And that! A long, crimson streak now eats into the skin of your countertop, threatening your deposit. The crepuscular creature slips over the edge, and you race to beat it to the other side. Just then, you find the spray bottle you were looking for, but the six-legged nightmare has vanished into a crevice, where the counter ought to have been flush with the frame—the hallmark of a shoddy carpenter.

Desperately, you spray all around the gap, pulling the trigger as hard and as fast as you can. You change the dial from spray to stream, but there is no indication that your efforts have been effective in drowning or poisoning this intruder.

But this isn’t your first rodeo. You break out the dust—that magic dust that makes all creepy crawlies disappear—and throw measuring cups full of it all along the edges of the floor and countertop. Then, like a hysterical spaz, you sprinkle it all over the floor, in every room. Complimenting this methodical madness, you go around the apartment and turn on each and every light, burning down the darkness to mere slivers beneath the feet of your furniture, for you know that these kinds of creatures abhor the light as much as you abhor them.

Finally, with a can of Raid in hand, you walk into your bedroom and sit there and wait, and wait. As the hours pass, you occasionally sharpen your arithmetic skills, as you humor the fantasy of sleep, and attempt to calculate just how much rest you might get if you dozed off right now. But who has time for sleep when the terror threat level is now a pulsating red?

Meanwhile, your ears have been perked up all along, and for the most part you have been staring out into nothing; just listening for anything. What was that? Was that the building creaking? Or that? Perhaps it was just the air coming on, blowing over some papers.

Nothing. You’re too easily spooked by small noises. But then, Pop! And you’re frozen. Glass has just shattered all over your kitchen floor. Pop! And now your living room, too. Pop! And you realize that the lights in your apartment are now systematically going out; one-by-one. Pop! Pop! Pop! And then there was only one. Alone in your room, the light of your lamp has never felt so dim. Silence swallows your apartment unit, and you dare not break it, lest you lose the last few remnants of your sanity in the process. And then you see it.

Its silhouette creeps along the wall, quietly growing in size: the manifestation of every ounce of dread you’ve been fighting to restrain all this time. It’s on your one and only light source, perched atop the lamp shade, and all it does is stare out at your from its beady, hollow eyes. Its antennae waving—it mocks you, knowing there is nothing you can do. It’s cornered you here, in your own room, and you have no where to go. And then, beyond yourself, your hind brain takes over, and forces out a blood-curdling scream—a primordial cry for help.

You scream yourself into shock as this inhuman voice violently courses through your vocal cords, straining the muscles, stealing the wind from your lungs; and for the life of you, you can’t even make it stop. The experience cements the terror that has arrested your body, preventing you from fleeing from this nightmare. And just before your remaining breaths burn away, as you descend into the dizzying balm of unconsciousness, He appears!

His gargantuan paw seems larger than life as it comes crashing down onto the shadow of your tormentor! But, as it does, so, too goes with it the last glimmer of hope, as the light of the lamp comes crashing down with it. Crack! And darkness engulfs you all. But from the sound of the fray, it’s clear that this ordeal is not yet over.

Your nocturnal companion and guardian takes on Hell, itself, as it fights for your honor, and for all of feline-kind, as it tries, valiantly, to vanquish this voracious vermin violator; and all, seemingly, in vain: for his distressed shrieks, hisses, and thumps indicate that even He is outmatched.

You fumble about in the darkness, searching for that emergency flashlight you were always sure you’d never need. And, of course, it doesn’t have a charge and you need to crank it for about a minute; but for you, that might as well be an eternity in purgatory. As you wind it around and around, frantically, you’re convinced that your cat is dying, and needs your help, but you dare not leave the safety of your blanket.

A minute later, silence falls once again upon your domicile. Your flashlight should be charged by now, and you clumsily fool around with it, desperately searching for the switch. Foolishly, you blind yourself, momentarily, but regain your sight quickly enough to react to the scene before you:

Sir Digby Chicken Caesar is nibbling on the carcass of the dead cockroach. He’s not even hungry, he’s just playing with it; sadistically pulling it to pieces. You breathe a sigh of relief which breaks out into a sore laugh. You have haven’t laughed this hard in a while—and after tonight, you really need it. You call Sir Digby over to you and stroke him in silence. A silence which is only broken by the pitter-patter of six, tiny legs scurrying along your bathroom floor.

The End

Multiple-Aspeliac Disyndrome

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So I googled and googled, and googled, and could not find the word I was looking for. So, from here on out, whenever one witnesses a surge of diagnoses of a particular disease (often being a misdiagnosis), let the fashionable phenomenon be called: Sudden Field of View diagnosis.

Yesterday, almost no one ever heard of Philinfrey Syndrome, yet, today, the condition has a name and a definition, and suddenly it occurs to every doctor that their patients have all the signs of this; falling under the broadest parameters.

*Sudden Field of View diagnosis!*

And, of course, it’s just in the nick of time, because there is a treatment for this disease. Hurray for Lithium, Lupron, Prozac, and Ritalin! Finally some corporately uninvested control in our lives!

Seriously, folks. Sudden Field of View. Put a finger on it.

 

No, Philinfrey Syndrome is not a real thing—at least, I hope not.

The Hobby Lobby Debate

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The Supreme Court may have rendered its decision, but the debate goes on. The following is my position on the matter:

Our reproductive rights are not being violated. No employer is telling us that we can’t use birth control. We can. Some just refuse to support that decision in any way, shape, or form.

I think what we are having is an argument about whether or not an employer has a right to exercise discretion when it comes to covering the cost(s) of medically facilitated lifestyles. And, from an objective point of view, I think it does:

Just as our parents have the right to to refuse to give us money when we say it is for rent when they know perfectly well we are going to use it for parties or drugs, our employers’ obligation should only go so far as to cover necessities. However, they are also free to cover extras, if they are so inclined. We should be so lucky, and duly grateful.

Personally, I disagree with the apparent inconsistencies with how this employer, Hobby Lobby, exercises said discretion, but that is beyond my control—save boycotting them— and I would not dare trespass on their rights to exercise that discretion.

Christmas Day: 2013

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You know something I have never liked about Christmas? The emphasis on nostalgia.

Where is the gratitude for the present (such as has been robbed of Thanksgiving), or attention towards the future (equally robbed of New Year’s day)?

Should this not be a time when families appreciate just seeing one another show up,  and congratulate one another for surviving yet another exhaustive year? If so, why do we spend so much time adding insult to injury?

Life is hard, especially if you are an adult, out on your own. And I imagine that, in a modern, first-world country—with a society divided at its very core through its celebration of independence of and hyper expression of individuality—this nation-sanctioned coming together that we do on Christmas day should be something of a morale boost, or a pep rally. Not a time to go around cutting one another down, or whining about why things cannot be like they were back in the “good old days”. We don’t live in the good old days. The “good old days” were never the good old days, for we whined about “the good old days” even back then. (Good and loyal consumers that we are, we can never be satisfied with what we have. Hah!)

No, let me explain to you just what the “good old days” really are:

Put plainly, they are little more than mental photographs of our lives suspended in our minds’ eye; still images that we photo shop; adding or exaggerating pleasantries;  enhancing with impossible lighting; blurring out the petty fights; filtering out the inconvenient noise; cropping out those we no longer talk about; framing everything just so. But that is not reality.

Reality is often ugly. But accepting that allows us to deal with it. And if we deal with it can be build onto it; make something better of it. Forgive me for using another metaphor so soon but, I think it is better that we should consider ourselves as marble stone. And, like marble, life weathers us and wears us down. Yet we are also artists, and we can sculpt ourselves and one another. And since we cannot replace stone that has already been chipped away, it is best not to dwell on this loss, but to make the most of what remains. Likewise, even if the “good old days” really were so grand, they are gone now, and all that we can do is adapt. And sometimes we can make up for those gaps, and sometimes we can’t. The point is, we shouldn’t be tearing one another down. Life already does that to us anyway.

Anyways, I think you get my point even if these are poor metaphors. I hope yours is a happy Christmas. And it would please me if we all made it through the jump into the New Year.

Love always,

-J.I.A.

Call of Scarface

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Stress shoot builds Soldiers’ readiness [Image...

Stress shoot builds Soldiers’ readiness [Image 1 of 2] (Photo credit: DVIDSHUB)

Hollywood is great at inspiring cold, heartless killers. It’s been doing so for ages. And in most cases, we think nothing of it, but congratulate our little minions for having made something of themselves, as they don their new camos and crew cuts and march with pride into the face of evil that is everything that America isn’t (whatever that may be).

But what happens if our kiddos don’t want to play in the sandbox, yet instead want to play soldier in our own backyard? Would Hollywood, an entity (as a whole) that takes credit for being a “culture creator”, accept responsibility for the influence they had on our children’s behaviour, or would they shift the blame elsewhere?

Ah. I see. Question answered. The spineless cowards that they are. Fortunately, there is another video that calls them out on this hypocrisy:

It seems that gun violence is okay, as long as it’s in a designated area, e.g. Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran (pretty much the litter/sandbox of the Middle East). Out of sight, out of mind? Or perhaps we just don’t give a flip, as long as it’s not happening to us. What you do behind closed doors…er…I mean, in another country…ahem! Hooray American imperialism! Let that freedom just gush right out!

And never mind the violations of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, and the fact that in order for one to commit such violations, one must first learn to suppress that pestering echo of the human spirit, otherwise known as our sense of empathy, either! No, none of that matters as long as that is not happening to us, here, on our soil. Once it does, that’s not Hollywood’s fault, that’s not the parent’s fault, and it’s definitely not society’s fault for embracing a culture of fear, cruelty and violence. No, it’s the fact that we, as ordinary citizens, are allowed to have guns. Now let’s go around and collect those right away. (Nasty little things!)

What’s that you say about leverage against a tyrannical government? What tyrannical government? It’s doing just fine looking after our interests, keeping us safe from harm. Now enough with these rebellious ideas!

You say you need your pistol for self-defence? Well what do you need that for when we have the police? That’s what they’re there for! Dial them up (any time, day or night), explain your squabble, and they’ll sort out your problems in jiffy! Now isn’t that convenient?

What? Don’t be silly, of course they would never turn on us! It’s not like they’re human beings, susceptible to human weaknesses, and prone to human error. They’re completely impervious to any form of coercion or corruption! They swore an oath, after all!

Incidentally, I do take the conservative position when it comes to gun rights. I believe that if you take away the guns from law-abiding citizens, the only ones carrying guns will be the crooks and the cops (often the two are one and the same), and the soldiers (Hollywood says, ‘you’re welcome’, by the way).

Now, I will concede, I wouldn’t mind as much, if we fixed our economy (thereby lowering the incentive and opportunities to commit gun crimes), and down-sized our military, and disarmed our constables; because then would I feel safer. But instead, we’re not aiming for mutual disarmament, yet the matter is entirely one-sided, both socially and politically. And so I have to take a stand and defend our Second Amendment rights (though I fear such efforts might still be in vain), hence the point of this whole article.