Thomas Hardy gets wasted, sells his wife and child, and thinks, "This is an awesome idea for a novel."


Carbon Dating

September 2008
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Why I Really Write, Part 7: I Am Seriously Pissed Off

I’ve spent two weeks writing the entry below, and it’s excellence is reflected in the fortnight of effort poured into it. Actually, I just banged it out today. I was out of my home for another week, as Wife forbade me to sleep in our place while the painters finished their thing, citing "my health" as a reason. As if. I’m gonna try to get back on a regular schedule. No promises, not that you were seeking any.


Having a child reveals a parents’ true nature, for good and bad. I daresay that Baby has exposed to the harsh light of marriage my temper.

Oh, I knew I could get pissed off, have for years. But I lived under the delusion that it was limited to certain things, including (but not limited to) computer malfunctions, my sports teams’ meltdowns, and the cast of criminals currently running the White House.

The added stress of sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation, not to mention a year of battling bed bugs and bed bugs and bed bugs has brought to light the fact that small things can get me enraged to the point that I must summon every iota of control in my being not to scream, "Fucking asshole!", for instance, at the contractor who managed to leave dents in the baseboard after we paid him an amount of cash equivalent to the GDP of a small Eastern European nation.

Like happiness or sorrow, anger comes in different flavors and degrees, and it is a certain type of anger that has been motivation since my career as an Angry Young Man started two decades ago.

My anger is the self-righteous kind, which, like all sorts of anger, will eat one alive if one doesn’t let it pass. For instance, there was a girl I fancied in college, and I thought I had the perfect opportunity to get a little closer to her when she, myself, and some friends went out one Saturday evening. As we got liquored up in a bar that was less-than-diligent in checking ID, one of the group decided it would be an awesome idea to go to a midnight showing of "Purple Rain."

Col. Sanders
Mad enough to write

Up until then, I had been carrying on a nice conversation with the lass who I wanted to meet. And I would have been perfectly happy to keep talking with her in the bar, or go dancing, or escort her home and find my way into her arms. But no. Everybody decided that "Purple Rain" would be a much better thing to do than me getting laid, or at least the .001 percent possibilty of me getting laid.

To skip my protests and the subsequent coversation, the group — the girl of my 20-year-old dreams included — went to the movie, and I went home, stewing. Not knowing what better to do, I pulled out my typewriter and hacked out a three-page, single-spaced letter to my best friend about the evils of Prince and how I’d been wronged.

If my friend wanted to blackmail me, he’d have good evidence. However, even if it doesn’t turn out as I’d planned, more often than not when I’m steamed, hitting keys on the keyboard certainly beats breaking the device in two.

Right now, the subject of my anger is a certain political couple that hooked up just last week. We now officially have the scariest mainstream ticket in presidential history — an old reactionary codger who couldn’t stand up to wingnuts in his own party and named a political hack whose inexperience, intolerance, and rank stupidity have now been chronicled far and wide, much better than I will attempt in this space.

This not only scares the shit out of me (I’ve actually lost sleep at thought of a President Palin) but the oozing stream of lies from the GOP infuriates me to no end, not to mention the fact there are people wholly willing to believe in it. Of course, the country re-elected Bush, and there’s enough moronic, unemployed white fucks in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania looking for any excuse not to vote for a black person to put McCain-Pallin into office.

Ach, you can see rage getting the better of me already…

Col. Sanders
Fake pic, fake person

Anger, and its close cousin, jealousy, have fueled many a writing sessions, even if the results were bad. It’s always self-righteous fury at stupid politicians, stupid writing teachers, stupid writers, and stupid people who all seem to exert some power over me, a power that I have no recourse to change. (Perhaps I should title this entry, "The Stupids.").

It’s too bad that every time I write in anger the result is rotten. It’s often unpleasant or unreadable. It sounds like a bad polemic from a bitter old man, shaking his fist at the world and screaming how much the world owes him because of his past suffering.

You know, like John McCain.

12 comments to Why I Really Write, Part 7: I Am Seriously Pissed Off

  • You missed Purple Rain over a girl? A girl?

    That soundtrack was my first, ahem, cassette tape. I saw the man/boy in concert in Houston, Texas in the eighties. Sat in the nosebleed section and watched His Purple Highness leap and cavort with various women and phallic-shaped instruments. He looked like an angry little pixie in heels. Still, it was a great show.

  • I don’t know… Sometimes the word-rage phenomenon, as Torrance calls it, produces interesting results. Maybe not complete stories, but definitely interesting sentences.

  • Far from being an eloquent writer when I’m raging, I become apoplectic and am unable to form complete sentences. Like when I read the list of books Palin wanted banned from her hometown library – and then threatened to fire the librarian when she wouldn’t do it. Oh…god…happening…again…

  • no_slappz

    bookfraud, you need an education in Obama-nomics. His plans and dreams include huge — huge — taxpayer support for healthcare, education and jobs. But his plans require huge tax increases. Those increases will cause many big businesses that are already weak to get even weaker and fail. Like GM, Ford and Chrysler.

    In fact, those three just went, hat in hand, to the federal government with a request for $50 billion. Auto-workers have the highest wages and best healthcare in the country. But GM, Ford and Chrysler are losing billions and cannot afford to pay those whopping high wages and benefits. The generous wages and benefits are bankrupting the car companies. Hence, the unions now want all American taxpayers to pay those generous wages and healthcare bills. Nice.

    Obama has promised that everyone will enjoy wages and benefits like the workers at the car companies. What do you think? How big will the tax increase be?

  • britta coleman: yeah, i missed “purple rain” because of a girl. i mean, i didn’t really like prince to begin with, but to be denied my .001 percent chance of nooky because of a movie got me pissed to no end.

    “cassette tape”? do you also have an 8-track? ;)

    rawdawgbuffalo: i got word rage alright. and it’s aimed at the gop.

    kofi: word rage may produce interesting results, as you mention, but none of it is any good.

    leigh purtill: meet the new boss. same as the old boss. we got fooled again. nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the american people.

  • no_slappz: i think your comment deserves an in-depth response.

    the big auto companies example is a poor one. rick wagoner, gm’s ceo, has called for comprehensive health care reform — the cost is killing gm, and adds thousands of dollars to the cost of each vehicle. in japan and germany, where health care is subsidized by the government, auto manufacturers aren’t burdened by this cost. think gm would love for the government to pick up their health care tab?

    if unions care at all who pays for health care (and bottom line, they don’t) they’d want a nationalized plan because they see the writing on the wall — the big 2 1/2 can’t afford to pay the tab, and their benefits are already shrinking. the alternative is that they have no health care at all.

    mccain’s health care “plan” is a joke. it’s tax incentives to get employers to voluntarily add coverage. same-old, same-old: it’s a variation on bush’s “plan,” which is essentially nothing.

    as far as obama’s ideas on taxation, i would study them carefully before slamming them, as they include cuts for the middle class.

    also,the idea that tax hikes, prima facie, are deleterious to the economy is a canard. it’s a myth, proven again and again to be false. we heard the same doom-and-gloom regarding bill clinton’s tax increases back in 1993. meanwhile, the bush tax cuts have lead to record deficits with the lowest job creation of any administration since the depression.

    (ditto for the lie of “supply side economics” and tax cuts. the whole idea behind supply side is that tax cuts pay for themselves via increased economic activity. that didn’t work with reagan or bush jr.)

    the idea that households that make over $250,000 cannot absorb a tax increase is false, since they had higher taxes during the greatest economic boom in the history of the nation, and seemed to do just fine. perhaps if those $5 million households in john mccain’s middle class stop driving their hummers everywhere, they probably could afford to pay a few thousand more each year for the privilege of being a u.s. citizen.

    of course, any new plans will cost a lot of money. and, of course, the likelihood of any politician’s programs will be enacted unscathed is about 0%. but the trillions of dollars pumped into iraqi war would have paid for a health care plan, with a much more copacetic effect on the body politic. (and please don’t tell me we’re safer because of the war, because it ain’t true).

    my larger point is that you can agree with obama’s plans or not, fair enough. if he wants health care reform, a national infrastructure fund and $150 billion on clean energy initiatives, he’ll have to find other places to cut the budget, true enough. but mccain’s economic policy is no different than bush’s, meaning it’s no policy at all, which is why his campaign is bashing the media and stoking the politics of personal resentment for votes.

  • no_slappz


    The first mistake in your reasoning about GM and the other car-makers is your off-hand comment that the union members don’t care who funds their healthcare bills.

    They care very much. Why? Because NO government plan will ever come close to providing the coverage of the GM, Ford and Chrysler plans. They define the concept of “gold-plated”. In fact, they are solid gold. These plans are worth annual premiums of $15,000, which is a lot more than our annual outlay of $8,000 per Medicare enrollee and $5,000 per Medicaid enrollee.

    Union members will never accept anything less than what they have. Therefore, even though GM, Ford and Chrysler management would happily off-load the healthcare costs of the auto companies on all taxpayers, management lacks the power to do it. The companies are bound by contract to honor plans that cover employees and retirees.

    Even if the government offered a national plan, the existing contracts would remain in force. Can you imagine anyone giving up the most generous plan in the world to accept government healthcare? As you probably know, private healthcare exists in all the countries with national plans. In other words, there are plenty of people willing to pay extra for better service. There is absolutely no chance auto-workers will give up the best plan for a government plan.

    Thus, the car companies will remain at a huge disadvantage that will become worse if employees are also hit with higher taxes to pay for the coverage of the 45 million residents who now lack coverage.

    If you want to know how taxpayers are already screwed by solid-gold healthcare plans, look at the plans given to teachers. Their plans are as good as those given to union people at the auto companies. Again, they’re worth about $15,000 a year per employee.

    As far as McCain’s healthcare plans go, they are undefined. But he has mentioned something about taxes and coverage.

    The fact that no one will confront is the fact that there is no economy-of-scale in healthcare. Our strength is our weakness. We are brilliant at improving healthcare and extending peoples’ lives. But that means we will all get sick and cured and sick and cured more and more times before we finally die of something medical science is currently unable to treat. Moreover, the population is growing and is expected to go far beyond 400 million, to possibly 450 million by 2050. We’re at 300 million now.

    Unlike computers that become cheaper as technology advances, healthcare does the opposite. It’s like compound interest, and it is the thing that can bankrupt the US — or any other country that is too generous with this aspect of national brilliance.

    Another factor that no one discusses is eligibility. In other countries that offer taypayer-funded healthcare, citizenship laws are tight. France is aggressive about booting freeloaders off its healthcare rolls. But the US has an uninsured population that’s almost as large as the population of France.

    Among our 45 million uninsured residents are 15 million illegal immigrants. If they all went to France, France would kick them out.

    Frankly, we’d be smart to point a few missiles at Mexico and encourage the leaders there to create a national healthcare plan funded by their oil revenue. But Mexico would never take an expensive step like that when it can enjoy the fact that the US taxpayers get stuck with much of the bill, and we throw in free public school education as well. What a country we live in!

    Hence, until we establish who gets what, there’s no chance of national healthcare.

    Then there is the issue of medical malpractice. Other countries with government plans prohibit suing the government if the doctor goofs. But we we will never see that prohibition in the US. Meanwhile, the single largest expense item in New York’s Medicaid program is the awards it pays out every year due to lawsuits.

    Personally, I favor a guest-worker program and elimination of the minimum wage. I would let lots of people in legally and let employers set their wages. Today, illegal immigrants compete with the minimum wage. They win because they will work for less. That’s reality.

    The US would be far better off if it were possible for immigrants to come here as guest-workers working toward citizenship. Instead, we have illegal immigrants who arrive, have children — who are citizens as a result of their births on US soil — and live in the shadows, paying no taxes but absorbing many social services, such as education and healthcare.

    As for your belief that taxes do not deter economic activity, well, you and others repeat the silliness, but the chief reason businesses move from one state to another boils down to taxes.

    Wall Street now extends from Manhattan to Connecticut and New Jersey. Even though New Jersey has its share of taxes, they are lower than the NY burden. That means rent in NJ is a lot lower than it is in NY. Same for CT. Then there’s commuting costs.

    When Toyota and Honda and other foreign car-makers built factories in the US, why did they chose to build them away from Michigan? Why have US car-makers built factories in Mexico?

    The fallacy of your tax reasoning lies in your assumption that results are binary. Lots of jobs disappeared in the 1990s — Detroit was pounded — but new auto-manufacturing jobs appeared in other states. But I doubt many Detroit auto-workers got them.

    The “Dot Com” boom was a huge scam that produced a large number of temporary jobs and a handful of permanent jobs. Maybe you do not understand that the losses incurred from the vast number of bankruptcies in the field during the Clinton administration returned as tax write-offs after Bush was elected. That’s how tax-loss-carry-forwards work. Higher tax-rates increase the value of tax write-offs.

    Then there is your misunderstanding of issues like Hummers and gas consumption. Here’s a statistic for you. There are about 250 million cars registered in the US.

    Those 250 million vehicles consume a lot of gasoline. How much is burned in Hummers? The Hummer 1 is no longer built. But for the last few years of its production, the company built ONE Hummer per day. ONE. The newest Hummer is a relative gas-sipper. Meanwhile, few are sold.

    As always, it’s the aggregate. A few Hummers make zero difference.

    Anyway, a large percentage of people in the US pay NO taxes and, in fact, receive net benefits from federal, state and local governments. Obama intends to increase the percentage of recipients while giving more and more employers reasons to move operations off-shore. The trend is obvious.

    Apple earns nothing from its computers. But it’s making huge bucks from iPods. The iPod is manufactured in Asia and sold everywhere. Manufacturing costs are about $10 per unit. But they sell for $150? $200? The profit margin is huge. Big oil companies earn 10% profit margins. Apple earns about 80% — pretax — on iPods. Almost pure gravy. But those profits appear in the US economy, mainly. However, these big margins are temporary, as all big margins are.

    Regarding the war in Iraq — all wars end. Hence, the war-related expenses end. But social programs never die. We have huge military forces in Japan, Germany and South Korea, to name three spots. They’ve been in place since WWII and the Korean War. Their presence ensures that peace is maintained.

    We are almost at the point where we can declare victory in Iraq. If Iraq remains a wobbly but relatively stable democratic capitalist state, then history will treat Bush as a hero.

  • no slappz, i gotta hand it to you for chutzpah. you make an interesting point re: unions and health care — they probably would want to keep their great benefits. but the fact is if there were national health care tomorrow, the first thing in contract negotiations for ford/gm/chrysler would be to drop the “gold-plated” healthcare benefits. i’m sure the uaw would negotiate hard to keep their great health plans, but they’d have no leg to stand on, and in the history of negotiations between automakers and unions, they always give up benefits before jobs.

    as for the rest of your assertions, some of them are risible on their face. i don’t see any sourcing for your numbers, but i would recheck them. or just check them. apple does make money on its CPUs, there are economies of scale in health care on the payor side, new york state’s largest medicaid expenditure is inpatient care (and not malpractice — doctors and their med-mal insurers pay that off, not payors), rents are higher in new york city than n.j. or long island or conn. because of this thing called “supply and demand,” the total number of U.S. auto manufacturing jobs have slowly declined since the 1980s, ipods cost $100 to make, not $10…i mean, i just read this stuff and shake my head. it makes me wonder about the rest of your numbers and argument overall.

    i write about business for a living, and have for 20+ years. most of that has been about finance, but also health care and other industries. so yeah, i understand what a tax-loss carryforward is. and it seems you’re implying that the collapse of the dot-com boom created a ton of tax losses that created the largest government deficit in human history? just ain’t true. the bogus dot-coms, as you might characterize them, along with many of the legitimate ones, weren’t making profits. they weren’t paying taxes to begin with, so you can’t say there was a sudden drop off in tax revenues because of that. and that can be quantified.

    as far as personal income taxes are concerned, there’s a big difference between corporate income and personal income taxes, which you seem to conflate. obama calls for higher personal income tax rates on the top end (households with incomes of $250,000+), while mcain wants to cut those rates.

    i hate to tell you this, but no historical correlation between higher personal income tax rates in the united states and long-term declining economic growth. none. nada. it doesn’t exist. i dare you to find me one study or academic paper that says otherwise. you will get a short-term stimulus with a personal income tax cut, of course, but in the long term, it won’t make a difference.

    in fact, higher taxes, when combined with spending restraints, have led to periods of sustained growth. that’s because the bond markets love surpluses. that drives down yields, which leads to low long-term interest rates, which is essential to growth. that’s exactly what happened with clinton — and you can look it up.

    the reason mccain’s health care plans are undefined is because they don’t exist.

    you miss my larger point. which is mccain’s taxation and healthcare “plans” are no plans at all. as they say, it’s more of the same. his message of “change” is that he’s going to clean up washington after being a ward of the government his entire professional life.

    if you think the country is headed in the right direction — record deficits, personal bankruptcies & foreclosures at record rates, greater inequality, curbs on freedom, government spying on citizens, the black holes of gitmo and abu ghraib, wars with no end, rank violation of the constitution — by all means, cast your vote for mccain. i’m not going to try to convince you otherwise.

  • McCain has yet to offer an idea, a plan or any direction for the country except more of what we had from Bush. All he’s got is parading Palin around to the right wing Christian crazies.

  • no_slappz


    If a national health plan were enacted, the enactment would mean nothing to the companies bound by contract to existing plans. There’s no precedent in the US for this face-off. The government will not assume the liabilities of the Auto Union healthcare contracts.

    On the other hand, something similar happened in the 1980s and early 1990s. The natural gas pipeline companies saw their balance sheets destroyed when utility companies realized they could make better deals with Gulf-of-Mexico gas produces and then use the pipelines as common carriers.

    At the time, the pipelines held gas contracts with the utility companies worth billions — at fixed gas prices. In short, this became the Take-or-Pay debacle which remained a court issue for years. What happened? Settlements were reached between the pipelines and the utilities that shared the pain. The pipelines took big hits because they accepted compensation amounting to less than the contracted values, and the utilities were forced to extract more from rate-payers to compensate the pipeline companies.

    In the end, almost all the pipeline companies were taken over. But a lot of money changed hands first. The auto unions will fight as hard as the pipeline companies.

    As for Apple, as I said, manufacturing of an iPod is about $10. That’s a very rough estimate. Maybe it’s $20. But manufacturing them is a small fraction of the price, which, in Apple’s latest 10-Q is $152. The exact manufacturing costs are not broken out by product line, but the margins on computers are low and the margins on iPods, and now iPhones, are wildly high. The aggregate gross profit is almost 40%. It is the cost of the processing unit — which Apple does NOT manufacture — that kicks up the price of each unit.

    Regarding Medicaid in New York, well, the organization “self-insures”. In other words, it pays legal claims as they arise. And I did assume you would understand that providing medical services is the largest expense generated by the organization. I mean, providing medical service is its business. But its record is poor after juries and attorneys fleece taxpayers for medical errors.

  • It took me until the age of 40 I got in touch with my anger but it didn’t lead me to write. I did creative deconstruction with great force – mostly phones. I busted up a lot of phones. It took until the age of 55 to use my anger to write. Now I earn accolades like this from one of my so called best friends – “your blog is the most beautiful narcissistic thing I have ever read – forget looking for a job, get an agent.”

    Unemployed, but not moronic, in Ohio

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