As this blog's resident public health expert, it is only fitting that I address the current frenzy over the swine flu. Reactions have run the gamut from incredulous skepticism that this is actually a cause for concern to fanatical hysteria that the end is nigh. As it usually is, the truth is somewhere in between. Here's the bottom line: act carefully, but not crazily.
It would be inexcusable for the writers of Excuse Me, Is That Your Blog to ignore an event taking place in our beloved DC that includes two of our favorite things: hating on the government and penis references. Of course I am talking about the infamous “teabagging” rally at the White House today, in which hundreds of disgruntled taxpayers tried to recreate the Boston Tea Party, minus Sam Adams, Native American costumes, and a worthwhile cause.
The demonstration went off about as smoothly as one can expect any teabagging to be executed. Protestors planned to dump tea into the Potomac River and Lafayette Square, only to learn that such shenanigans are in fact illegal. (Frankly, I think the filthy Potomac could benefit from the antioxidant quality of tea, but I guess overly caffeinated fish would be somewhat frightening.) Teabaggers were also supposed to gather in front of the Treasury Building (Hey Tim. Tax day must be rough for you. Call me!) to listen to the inspiring words of delusional presidential candidate and Borat victim, Alan Keyes. However they didn’t foresee that disrupting traffic in the middle of a work day in the nation’s capital might require a permit, and failed to obtain one.
Despite the logistical setbacks, and the miserable weather, the teabaggers soldiered on and held a rally in front of the White House. Unfortunately the protesters couldn’t even get this part right, because one overly zealous malcontent threw a box of tea onto the White House lawn. This of course prompted the Secret Service, concerned that first dog Bo would get into the stash and leave them a runny mess to clean, to disperse the crowd. The utter failure of the occasion did not dampen the protestors’ spirits. Humorously, Rebecca Wales, local organizer of the teabaggers claimed, "This is the largest grass-roots demonstration in history.” Oh honey, you don’t get out much, do you?
Aside from the fact that teabaggers poorly planned and managed their premiere event, their very purpose is questionable at best. Ostensibly, the protestors are decrying irresponsible government spending and taxation. Yet they are mostly comprised of conservatives who supported Bush, the drunkest sailor of a spender in American history (he would have fallen off the boat at the tea party). I’m a libertarian, and I hate taxes as much as any of these teabaggers. But the thing is, Obama has CUT taxes. I am by no means blown away by the additional $20 in my last 2 paychecks, but it’s better than nothing. I’m sure the protestors benefited from the extra Jackson in purchasing posterboard and markers for their fancy rally signs. And even if Obama is putting a Boston Harbor full of taxpayer money into the stimulus package, at least he is funding laudable projects instead of an unnecessary war. In fact, it is conceivable that the government will reap returns on investments such as renewable energy, thus further lowering the burden to taxpayers.
So teabag away, Obama haters. You’ll ultimately be the ones on the wrong side of history looking like, to use another popular slang word, douchebags.
Just wanted to chime in here on E Murf's piece, partly because I'm an attention whore and partly because I wanna say she's dead on. In fact, I think we should go further. Metro itself is the source of too many transgressions lately for us to give them a pass.
First and foremost, especially in the context of the record fare increases E Murf mentioned, I want someone to explain to me why the christ I should ever be waiting more than four minutes for a train during peak hours. If it is between 3p and 7p and I'm being charged the maximum fare, there's no fucking reasonable excuse for me to have to wait ten minutes just to board a train to Rosslyn, where I will inevitable be crammed into an overcrowded train full of stinky bastards. One morning, I watched four Vienna-bound trains pass by before one New Carrolton train came. I can't remember a day when the escalators at all points in my commute -- all three stations -- actually worked. This wouldn't be such a huge problem if Metro wasn't so inept as to fail to label broken escalators and prevent people from trying to walk up AND down the same ones. Furthermore, I can't believe how terrible some of these drivers are. Why the fuck is it necessary to lurch forward inch-by-inch when there's another train stopped ahead, inducing nausea in all the passengers and making them fall all over each other? Why not just, ya know, fucking stop for a minute and let the train ahead move before you start moving?
An administration as inept as Metro's current one is never going to fix all of these problems, but I've got a suggestion for a good start: replace all the drivers with computers, and re-train the drivers as E Murf's suggested "pollution policemen." That way, everyone keeps their jobs, Metro makes money, and less people want to vomit during rush hour rides. As for the other problems? I got nothing. But that's not really my schtick, is it? I'm just here to throw my hands up in the air, bitch about it really loudly, and hope that somebody with a more actionable degree does something about it.
P.S., to E Murf: re: people playing their iPods too loud... I think the early 90's said it best: if it's too loud, you're too old!
Like many businesses in this dismal economy, Metro is strapped for cash. Even with recent fare hikes and a surge in new riders due to high fuel costs, Metro’s financial situation is bleak. The deluge of tourons that descended upon our nation’s capital in January for The Obama’s inauguration, or the Cherry Blossom festival this month, may have provided a temporary boost in profits, but to survive in the long-term Metro will have to find another source of funding. I have a solution that will not only provide revenue, it will improve the quality of commuting for the half million riders in the DC area that depend on public transportation: Fine people who play their Ipods too loudly and people who wear too much cologne and/or perfume. These ignorant, inconsiderate, and quite frankly, disgusting people should be targeted with the same tenacity with which we are encouraged to report unattended bags.
Granted, the Metro brings out the worst in even the most sophisticated of men and women. We clamor and claw at one another to get on a certain train, knowing full well that another will follow approximately 2 minutes later. We curse at the oblivious tourists (and sometimes denizens) who stand in the left lane, jam the turnstiles because they can’t figure out how to put their damn fare card in the machine, and meander about aimlessly on the concourses, blocking us from the path to catch our connecting trains. But I believe that these reactions are a simple byproduct of the workaholic, competitive nature of DC residents. Once we actually board the train, we return to relative civility. We open up the Washington Post or a New York Times bestseller, and fall back into the comfort of our own invisible pods of self-absorption. Unfortunately, there are several among us who threaten the peaceful harmony that flourishes within the Metro trains, often making the atmosphere within the cars as chaotic and unpleasant as the struggle getting to the cars.
The first type of offender is the person who plays his/her Ipod at an unreasonably loud volume. They are called “personal” music devices for a reason: they are meant to be enjoyed privately without imposing on other people. One is not supposed to fire thunderous blasts of T.I. or Nickelback into the ears of other passengers. That’s right folks, as if it weren’t bad enough that I am distracted from my reading by the strident sounds from peoples’ headphones, the music is invariably in poor taste. But to be fair, and to set a good example, I believe that all Ipod/Walkman listeners should refrain from noise pollution and keep their music to themselves. It is disruptive to people trying to read, relax after a hard day at work, or even carry on a simple conversation. The other day I read the same paragraph 4 times because I could not concentrate with the shrill reverberations bursting forth from some asshole’s headphones. It was as if I had a boombox on my shoulder, but without the breakdancing. More importantly, noise pollution is pernicious to the health of others. In this respect it is similar to second-hand smoke. As a society we have agreed that if a person wants to contract lung cancer, then that is his or her right as an American citizen. But that person should not force others to bear the negative consequences of his or her unhealthy behavior. Likewise, if a person wants to render oneself deaf, he or she is entitled to do so. But that person should not destroy the hearing of others in the process. It is literally painful to bear the monstrous sounds sometimes; I can almost feel my ears bleeding. Noise pollution is a threat to peace of mind and the stability of the auditory senses.
The second type of Metro menace is the excessive cologne/perfume wearer. On what planet is it appealing to ward off a full-front assault on the olfactory system? A subtle dab of cologne, perfume, scented lotion, etc is acceptable, perhaps even attractive. But to douse oneself in a pungent substance like one bastes a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner is absolutely repulsive. It is literally nauseating, especially for people like me with allergies and asthma who have heightened sensitivity to strong, chemical-based odors. I had to leave a train last week because I was sick to my stomach, faint, and suffering a headache from one of these buffoons. It was as if the man swam 75 laps in an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with Polo. I’ve had this happen on planes and elevators before, but the air pressure and filtering systems generally eliminate the noxious effects on planes, and elevator rides are short. Neither of these mitigating factors applies to the Metro system, at least not to us poor schleps who have to travel from Takoma Park to Arlington on a regular basis. I can’t imagine how one could completely lack awareness and/or concern for the fact that he or she is inducing nausea in fellow passengers. Olfactory pollution is a serious offense, and should be punished as such.
So what is Metro to do to thwart the reckless behavior of noise and olfactory polluters? It should do the same thing the federal government does with manufacturers that pollute the air and water: Tax Them! This solution is based on the simple economic concept of externalities. A firm takes its production costs and consumer preferences into consideration when it produces goods, ideally reaching a market equilibrium in which supply equals demand. But the firm does not account for the social costs of manufacturing which harm consumers, such as pollution. Therefore the actual consumer demand, and thus the socially optimum equilibrium, is lower than the privately optimum level. To make up for this difference – the externality imposed by the firm – the government charges a tax that reflects the difference between the socially and privately optimal prices. The tax revenues are then distributed back to the consumers via improved government services or tax cuts, which compensates for the noxious pollution they have to endure. Meanwhile, the burden of the tax deters firms from producing excessive pollution. Everyone is happy and the world is a better place.
Similarly, Metro should tax noise and olfactory polluters for the social costs they impose on other passengers. The tax should be equal to the difference between the socially and privately optimal levels of sound and smell. In an ideal situation, the offenders would pay these taxes at the time they purchase their cologne, perfume, or Ipod. However there is no way to predict a priori who will “pollute” and who will use these products responsibly, and we cannot rely on polluters to self-identify. Therefore I propose that Metro fine those who wear too much cologne and perfume, and those who listen to their Ipods too loudly. The fine should be equal to the average fare per rider * the average number of riders per train during high traffic hours (Approximately 8 AM-9PM). This is the fairest way to force polluters to take into consideration the comfort and welfare of other passengers. The process I envision is simple, though it will require some upfront costs. Here is the plan:
1) Metro assigns a “pollution policeman” for every train in service during high traffic hours.
2) The pollution policeman conducts regular “rounds”, patrolling up and down the center aisle of each car to listen and smell for polluters
3) If the pollution policeman can distinctly smell cologne or perfume, or hear noise from any headphones, he or she issues a ticket to the offender and takes a photograph of the offender.
4) The offender pays the ticket within 30 days, after which the fine increases and/or penalties are imposed.
5) Metro keeps a record of offenders with photographs and payment records. If any person has not paid within the 30 day window, Metro pollution policeman are authorized to order the offender to leave the train at the next stop, and alerts all other Metro policeman to look out for the offender and prevent him or her from riding any train. The offender will not be allowed to ride any Metro train until fines are paid.
6) The offender can appeal in a process similar to the traffic court process, but only with credible witnesses that testify under oath.
Of course this plan is not perfect, and like any public policy, there will be people who try to circumvent the law. But it is the most feasible and fair way to promote responsible and considerate commuting in DC. It will require hiring dozens of new staff, but it will also generate a considerable amount of income for Metro. After an initial round of reliable enforcement, the negative behavior will decrease and Metro pollution policemen can simply serve as a deterrent to maintain order in the Metro system. Eventually, Metro will be able to cut back on the pollution police force. At that time, the economy will have improved and/or Metro will have increased ridership and pollution policeman can be reassigned to expand services. After an initial surge in revenue from fines, income will decrease and plateau once people understand that Metro is serious about enforcing the pollution laws. However, the decrease in additional income will be offset by the corresponding increase in ridership, as commuters will be more likely to ride the train knowing the atmosphere is pleasant, as well as the adjustments in staff.
We the commuters of DC, in order to form a more perfect Metro, must take back our trains and rid them of unnecessary noise and smells. I urge you to contact your city councilperson immediately, write to Metro, and melodramatically demonstrate disapproval toward auditory and olfactory polluters. YES WE CAN go to work and return home headache and nausea free!
And now, for a dialogue between out two esteemed authors:
Erin: dogs in bathtub
Hey did you hear about that new recovery bill?
Erin: Tim Geithner can stimulate my economy any day
Phil: I've spent the last two months extraordinarily renditioned in and undisclosed Eastern European prison
Erin: No way, really?
Phil: yeah, what the fuck have you been doing and why haven't there been any posts since Obamadan?
Erin: Well back to the Treasury Bill, so it's like this:
Reagan had trickle down economics
Now Obama/Geither have "laxative" economics
They are basically pumping money into the economy to try to move its bowels
Erin: Well I know it's gross but it's the best way to explain it
Phil: so, aren't you even curious as to how my experience was in a super-secret CIA prison?
Erin: Geithner still thinks it's a liquidity crisis
He's so wrong. The banks are insolvent, yo
But he wants to throw more money at Wall Street and all these failing banks, hopefully they eventually take a hot steamy dump on us
like an economic Cleveland Steamer
I could get behind that
on top of that?
Erin: Ew, stop!
Phil: either way, that shit is gross
I don't know if this plan will work, but I know that Tim Geither is hot and I would totally hit that
that guy looks like the creep museum curator motherfucker in Ghostbusters 2
Erin: You look like Slimer
Phil: I keep expecting a Geithner press conference where he's standing in front of a giant painting of an evil Carpathian god
ok so anyway, back to my rendition
Erin: Ooooooooooooooooh and then this batshit insane woman had octoplets, and she already has 6 kids! And she has no job! meanwhile, she's had mad plastic surgery to look like Angelina.
I got tortured and shit
Erin: Yeah she is whack.
I was tortured too
By Pope Benedict's stupidity
First he lets a Nazi back into the church, then he says condoms don't work
What a turd
Phil: didn't our blog used to be about DC?
Erin: Oh, and speaking of torture, Guantanamo Bay is closing and they're trying to figure out what to do with all the "enemy combatants"
But they were all waterboarded and now their testimony is questionable
So it's a hot steamy mess
Phil: waterboarding sucks
Erin: Kind of like the economic package
Phil: I was treated as an enemy combatant
I think Cheney's got some rogue operation running in Turkmenistan or something
seriously, I have no idea where I was
Erin: Oh that's why you haven't posted. That makes sense. Well now you're back, so post already.
Phil: wait, what the christ was your excuse?
Erin: I had Seasonal Affective Disorder. I was too depressed to post. I spent most of January, February, and March in my bed
I feel like kind of a douche now
Phil: uh, well, I wasn't really extraordinarily renditioned
I was just being a lazy slob
Erin: OMFG that is so unfair
Okay, I have a confession
Erin: The real reason I didn't post is because I'm a lazy slob too
I like my story better
Erin: I was just trying to make you feel bad with the whole SAD thing
Phil: well my story involved delusions of grandeur that assumed I was important enough to be extraordinarily renditioned by some shadow Cheney government
plus like I'm even capable of being sad at this point
Erin: He is such an anus face. I hate him. But he's not as bad as that fat-ass greasy drug-addicted blowhard Rush Limbaugh.
He looks like HE was extradorniary renditioned to Eastern Europe
Phil: only if Europe was made of cheeseburgers an he ate it
Erin: But the liberals are just as bad. Nancy Pelosi looks like Michael Jackson
No wait, I meant Joan Rivers
Phil: either way, she probably touches chirldren
Erin: She should put on a gold robot suit and start sassing off
Erin: Oh by the did you do your taxes yet?
Erin: No wait, don't do it
Erin: If you want a job in the Obama administration, you have to NOT pay taxes
oh ya know what else?
Yeah, I'm MAD that March's weather won't stop sucking
Is that what you mean?
Phil: something like that
Erin: Oh you know what else sucks?
Erin: Well yeah, they all suck
But Metro takes the cake
There was train derailment on the red line. It took me 75 hours to get home
Phil: I derailed your mom
Erin: Oh snap, no you didn't!
Okay that's the point in the conversation where I say adios
Phil: dude you know what would be fucking great?
Erin: Tim Geithner naked press conference?
but I was gonna say, if we just copied and pasted this whole chat and tried to pass it off as our grand re-opening post
people would fucking love that
That works well with our laziness
Fucking a, why does Obama keep addressing the nation?
Phil: I dunno, but every time that dude is on TV, I get "Cult of Personality" stuck in my head
Erin: Jello Biafra
But actually he was in Dead Kennedys, not Living Colour
But I digress...time for bed. Good night!
Welcome by to the new and improved "Excuse Me, Is That Your Blog?" Super huge special thanks to Adam for the bitchin' site redesign! Hope you all enjoy it! Maybe we'll update more than once every three months this time. No promises.
Rarely can an event as historic as yesterday’s inauguration of Barack Obama be summed up with one word. But this one is easy: clusterfuck. Never have I been a part of such a piss-poorly managed event in my entire life.
My friends and I waited in a mile and a quarter long line on abandoned I-395. It was like a fucking George A. Romero flick. Occasionally, we were passed by ambulances, EMTs and buses full of TSA agents who apparently went nowhere and did nothing. And we were the lucky ones, because at least we got in. Thousands of legit ticket holders got screwed out of getting in, thanks to the brilliant foresight of the event planners. Seriously, would it have been hard to figure out how many people the event could hold and only print that many tickets? Or to get like, ten fucking cops posted along the streets with signs or megaphone directing the huddled masses to their cattle pens? Nobody had any clue what the christ they were doing. And incompetent leadership coupled with brain dead tourists = FAIL.
All this bullshit of course went down under the guise of “security” and, as usual, it ended up being more of a hassle than it was worth. When we finally crammed in to the gates, just in time to miss the oath of office, we walked through metal detectors and were briefly patted on the hips. Really fucking thorough. It was like one final “fuck you” from Bush as he guffawed his way out of office.
Though I have to say, it could have been worse. No one died, no one was arrested. In fact, the crowds were all very jovial from what I could tell. And the Metro may have run more efficiently yesterday than I’ve seen it run in my entire DC existence. Tourists were tourists, but most were decent. Most were courteous and respectful; they were here to witness history. Others were self-righteous yuppie douchebags glued to their iPhones, Twittering their thoughts so their douche friends back in New York or Chicago or Boston or Seattle could read them and be jealous (unlike me – I continually updated my Facebook status from my BlackBerry!). Still others were mindless morons that thought it would be a good idea to toss their babies in a backpack or a messenger bag and make them bear the cold for hours on end to see something they won’t remember. Many were devastated to find out they couldn’t drink Starbucks/eat McDonald’s/smoke/chew tobacco/be total assholes on the Metro. But again, these folks were the minority for once, and it was a lot of fun seeing
There are two things we can be really thankful for today. One, Barackstar is here to bring us Hope, Change, Unicorns, Cotton Candy and Ice Cream Sundays. Two, we don’t have to hear about the goddamn Whistle-stop Tour or what dress Michelle Obama is going to wear or how Obama loves basketball or what kind of dog the Obamas are getting.
Wait, who am I kidding? That shit’s never gonna let up. But at least the tourists will go home. And we can look forward to George W. Bush’s post-election antics. Do I smell “Celebrity Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?”
Y'all are crazy: A rebuttal by a crotchety old cynic, aka Sober Pundit
While Turk and El Braixan foolishly ventured into the Arctic weather and smothering throng of tourons to catch a glimpse of Obama on a jumbotron, I watched the proceedings unfold from the comfort of my friends' couch in Sherman Oaks. That's right folks, I escaped to Los Angeles to avoid the aforementioned hot mess. Or shall I say, "cold mess?" As my colleagues waited in unbearably long lines to be ceremoniously examined by security guards, or to take a piss, I relaxed in my pajamas, sipping freshly brewed coffee and making goofy faces at my friends' adorable 14-month-old son. Sure they got to experience history in the making, which is the same reason the damn fools took a cab from Arlington to the White House on Election Night to drunkenly belt the National Anthem with some fratboys from GW. But there are few things an old fart (I'm 29) like me despises more than crowds, cold weather, and lack of immediate access to a clean bathroom. Nosiree, I'd rather stay home and watch the President-elect and Chief Justice fumble the oath of office close up on a Television screen, with Wolf Blitzer and that prematurely grey homosexual man explaining everything in detail so I don't have to constantly ask, "What did he say? Who's that tramp dressed like a woman for hire?"* If'n I were unfortunate enough to be stuck in the District for this tomfoolery, I would brandish my cane at the audience assembled on the National Mall and scream, "GET OFF MY LAWN!"**
*Turns out it was Dr. Jill Biden
**GET OFF MY LAWN will premiere soon as part of an ongoing series on Excuse Me, is that your Blog? Our senior correspondent, Sober Pundit, will lament all that is wrong with "kids these days" and how their parents raised them improperly.
In the tradition of other made-up holidays like Festivus, we here at EMITYB are proud to bring you our newly founded holiday. So gather ‘round, children, as we recount the miracle of Obamadan.
Details of the Obamadan legend are fuzzy, but historians have built a consensus based on the following account:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (Hawaii), the world was in peril. War raged, energy was scarce and cholera was taking its toll. A young woman with child walked the streets of in search of a place to bear her offspring, a child that was destined to be The Chosen One. His fate was foretold by Thomas Jefferson’s hazy vision 200 years ago, that may or may not have been opium-induced. The father was back in his native Kenya, having abandoned the woman to give birth and raise the child alone. Lacking health care, the woman searched long and hard for an inn rather than a hospital, but alas, every last Motel 6 had lit its “NO Vacancy” sign. It was at the bleak Ayers Compound that the woman finally found refuge, and, yea, her child was birthed amidst a kindling of straw and Marxist literature. It was a strong child, wrapped in swaddling clothes, donning a Che Guevara hat, and bearing the mark of the Savior. Visitors came from far and wide, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and biodeisel fuel. Corn-fed cows from the monoculture farms of Iowa kept the baby warm. This child, “The Obama”, would be our shining light.
The Obama grew to be a strong boy and a skilled carpenter, lending his craft to a slew of LEED certified high-density, mixed-use, transit-oriented developments. He worked for approximately one month, and then decided he was better suited for managerial duties rather than manual labor. He also had one bitch of a splinter. Both the pain from the splinter and his passion for helping the underdog inspired him to organize his former coworkers in a lifelong campaign against “The Man”. The Obama would go on to win the adoration and admiration of many followers, and eventually defeated The Man in an apocalyptical showdown for the presidency. Soon he will rule the world from his sacred Temple at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia.
Obamadan is a month-long celebration held every year in honor of The Obama, culminating on January 20th. It is a festive holiday marked by indulgence and revelry, symbolizing the bounty brought to us by The Obama’s hard work over the years. Unlike most holidays that encourage self-sacrifice, those who participate in Obamadan are encouraged to “slow” over the course of the month, meaning they should eat constantly throughout the day at a slow speed. During Obamadan, it is improper to NOT drink every night after the sun goes down. In fact, some bars are starting to recognize the growing number of Obamadan supporters and vowing to stay open until 5am during the height of the festivities.
On each day of Obamadan, believers light Change Candles to signify The Obama’s victory over The Man. On the eve of the final night of the celebration, children leave a plate of organic carob-chip cookies and a warm mug of soy milk under their Hope Shrubberis in anticipation of a visit from Obamaclause. Obamaclause is the embodiment of The Obama’s good will, and is said to fly around the world in his hybrid sled led by a team of eight free-range reindeer every January 19th to deliver MacBooks, welfare checks, and New York Times Magazines to all the good little boys and girls. The bad kids, however, will receive a lump of clean coal.
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