05 May 2010

Pittsburgh Named Most Livable City

My hometown has once again been named America's most livable city. After reading the article I have my doubts that the authors actually visited Pittsburgh and suspect that it might have actually been written by our convention and tourism authority.

Before you pack up your belongings, kids and pets to move to my beloved hometown, let me fill you in on a few things the article doesn't mention. After reading my take on this hell hole, you may just want to stay safely within the confines of Cleveland, Kabul or wherever you call home.

1) The weather sucks. No, I mean it really sucks. We get more annual rainfall than Seattle and when it isn't raining, it is cloudy. Sunny days are so few and far between that we actually have a local phenomenon known as "sun glare" that can slow down rush hour. Imagine waking up and hearing the traffic report that states you are going to be late to work because it is sunny outside- no, you can't imagine it because you live in a normal part of the world that gets more than 35 minutes of sunlight per year.

2) The average citizen is 87 years old. We have the oldest population in the United States. Go ahead and look it up if you don't believe me. The reason our vaunted crime rate is so low is that geriatrics are unlikely to commit robberies and murder (except when Matlock was cancelled.) Forget about doing anything quickly. True frustration is standing behind one of our grey panthers at the grocery store as they explain to the clerk they want their ham "shaved, not chopped or sliced, I want it shaved 1/8 of an inch thick, you cut it too thick last time, more like half an inch and Irving didn't like it but we are on a fixed income so we had to eat it...." Oh for fucks sake lady, just grab your god damned ham and get out of the way.

3) Our infrastructure is horrible. Many people around the world are unaware that Pittsburgh was carpet bombed during the 2nd world war by both Germany and Japan. Their bombers left massive craters on strategic structures like our 3,224 bridges and overpasses. I tried to make my case at the Hague that Germany owed me for a broken tie-rod and shock absorber and am still eagerly awaiting the outcome. As the old saying goes, the shortest distance between two points in Pittsburgh is under construction.

4) We have some of the highest taxes in the country. Part of the benefit of living in America's most livable city is also that you get to live in America's least livable state. When you become a citizen of our Commonwealth ("common" being a tip off that the state is going to share all of your income with your fellow citizens) you get to establish a direct deposit account so that everything you make can be quickly and easily deducted to pay for school taxes, local property taxes, local wage taxes, state income taxes, state sales tax, fuel taxes, county taxes and whatever else they have thought up since I started writing this. Very quickly, you come to understand that this equals 115 % percent of your income so you need to take a second job, which only puts you in the hole deeper.

5) Nobody actually lives here. You know why our real estate is so affordable ? Because half of the homes are on the market. Anyone with any sense in their head is packing up and running for the exits. The city is broke, the county is broke and the state is broke. Last one out of town, turn off the lights. What is the best graduation present for a new college grad ? A plane ticket (or a bus ticket, whatever works for you.) As soon as my kids leave the house at 18 for college, prison or wherever they are headed, we're off to New Mexico, which by that time could actually be part of Mexico.

Still want to move here ? Don't say you weren't warned.

More on the Orwellian PA Tax Commercial...

Although the mainstream media (not surprisingly) remains mute about the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue commercial I mentioned earlier, the blogosphere is heating up with articles about it. I like this one. The author makes the claim, as others have, that the people that produced the commercial used an actual map to show where the alleged tax dodging malcontent "Tom" lives. Needless to say, the actual residents of the house aren't too happy and I hope they sue both the producers of the commercial and the state itself. Another interesting assertion from the article is that the state spent $ 3,000,000 of our dollars to pay for this little slice of arrogance and intimidation.

The author notes how tone deaf the government of Pennsylvania must be as to the sensitivity of people to government intrusion and surveillance. The really don't get it.

03 May 2010

Obey the State - We know where you live.

The morally, and financially, bankrupt government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has produced and aired the above commercial in an effort to collect tax revenues. I saw this creepy commercial yesterday while watching a local network in Pittsburgh and nearly fell out of my seat. The ad shows a satellite reticle zeroing in on a Pennsylvania citizen's home who owes the state money with the slightly veiled threat that the state "knows who you are." The robotic female voice says "nice house, nice car" but "what's not so nice is you owe $ 4,212 in back taxes."

Oh you arrogant fascist bastards.

I find it incredibly offensive and hypocritical that a state government that wastes tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars of our hard earned wages would spend the money to produce this garbage. Who authorized this commercial ? Who produced it ? Is this how the government of the state views its citizens, as serfs that can be intimidated and shoved around ? Here's a better question- why is the state so deeply in debt ? Why is the capital of the state (Harrisburg) on the verge of bankruptcy ? Who are the idiots (of both parties) that have spent this state into financial disaster ?

I'm so pissed off right now that I could spit nails. This is a prime example of the arrogance of power and its abuse by the bureaucratic goons that run this state. The media and government whine about the rise in anti-government sentiment in this country and then they produce crap like this ? What do the expect ?

You shove people, they will shove back.

The commercial I would have written would have gone like this. I would have filmed it with Ed Rendell dressed in a clown suit and holding a balloon-

"Hi, I'm Ed Rendell, governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We realize that most of you are working really hard, and sometimes multiple jobs, to make ends meet and might have come up short on the confiscatory taxes that we take from you. If you could please send us a little bit of cash so I can plug this pesky billion dollar hole in our state budget and keep lots of my political friends employed, I would greatly appreciate it. Hugs and Kisses, The Gov."

I wouldn't have even charged them to produce it. As soon as I'm done here, it's off to the phone to start calling some of the political hacks that represent my district.

Of Mice and Women

My wife is one of the most stable people I know- practical, incredibly intelligent, not prone to getting freaking out in a crisis, in short, everything that is a good counter-balance to me. So, it was with some concern that I walked in the door a few days back and was met with a stammering mess. "What's wrong ?" I rushed in the door as I saw the look on her face. My mind raced- fire, somebody in the family is sick, somebody died, nuclear attack warning on the television ?

"Mouse !" she cried, "the cat was playing with a mouse."

For some reason, my otherwise stable wife has a deep primordial fear of rodents. Nothing can set her off like the appearance of one of these otherwise harmless little creatures. We're not talking nasty NYC city 20 pound sewer rats- we're talking about the cute little field mouse variety.

My wife pointed into the living room where our youngest, and biggest, cat Whiskers was patrolling the room. Whiskers is a big Maine coon that we picked up in Maine a few years back. Although he leads most of his life in a sedentary haze, when mice make their appearance he suddenly decides it's time to earn his keep. "Where is he ?" I asked the cat, apparently forgetting he's not a dog or any other creature that would care what his owner had to say when I spotted a lump of fur on the carpet. I bent down and picked up a piece of mouse about the size of a large marble- it looked like hamburger with some tufts of hair and a small bone protruding from the side.

"Here's a piece of it, Whiskies must have winged him" I said helpfully to my wife. She looked ashen. "It must have crawled away, oh my God it's injured and it's going to crawl off to do or maybe into our bed...." I stopped her short. "Don't worry, it couldn't have gone far and I'll find it." Whiskers was licking his massive paws, looking completely unconcerned that a wounded, bleeding mouse missing a large proportion of its rib cage was at this moment crawling around the house.

For the next 45 minutes I checked every room in the house, used a flashlight to check every nook and cranny where it could have crawled off to. I told my wife I couldn't find it, she said keep trying, so I kept looking. Finally, I told her it probably crawled off to die outside using the same path it used to get inside. That seemed to mollify her and she went back into the basement.

A few seconds later after offering my hypothesis, it became obvious why the cat was unconcerned about the location of the mouse since he know all along where it was. I noticed Whiskers making all the motions of a cat about to hurl a hairball and then out it came- the mouse. It actually hit the floor as a mass of blood and fur with it's four little paws splayed out to the side and the tail sticking to the rear, appearing like a high diver that jumped into a pool with no water.

"Found it !" I gleefully yelled to the wife.

The cat, none the worse for wear, immediately started rubbing my leg. It was dinner time after all.

02 May 2010

Prohibition & the poisoning of American citizens.

For all of you that feel my misgivings about the government are paranoid and unfounded, here's an eye-opening article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that relates how the U.S. government was responsible for the deaths of over 10,000 citizens during Prohibition.

From the article-

"Doctors were accustomed to alcohol poisoning by then, a routine of life in the Prohibition era. The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made people sick. The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came tainted with metals and other impurities. But this outbreak was bizarrely different. The deaths, as investigators would shortly realize, came courtesy of the U.S. government."

But that was then, this is now you argue. Well, the size, scope and power of the current federal government dwarfs its former self in the 1920's. It has permeated the daily lives of all of us in a myriad of ways, it watches us, it tracks us and it confiscates the fruits of our labors at the barrel of a gun. Every aspect of our daily lives is regulated by faceless bureaucrats in Washington D.C.- what we buy, the cars we drive, the jobs we toil at to pay our masters- at what point do we collectively stand up and shout "enough ?"

The government will continue to kill in the same oblique manner as it did in the 1920's though it will now do it through the massive bureaucracy of the new health care programs, the push for smaller less crash resistant vehicles and a variety of other new regulations headed for all of us. Always remember that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and every other power mad nut case in history could only achieve their evil goals with the assistance of large, well run, fed and funded bureaucracies- just like the one we have now. All it needs is the right psychotic to throw the switch.