SHORT RANTS TWELVE

YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN SOMETHING LIKE THIS WOULD HAPPEN

Back in 1970 a bunch of people who now think of themselves as Blue States decided that racial equality in the southern schools would be best accomplished by forced bussing.

To avoid forced bussing, or to avoid forced integration, white people founded lots and lots of private schools over the next few years.

In order to take advantage of favorable tax status, most of these schools were founded around churches. So lots and lots of the southern sons and daughters of the priveleged classes grew up with fundamentalist influences they would not have had in public schools.

Here we are thirty-five years later and the Blue State people just can't figure out where all these religious fanatics came from.

They came from you. As usual, you created the thing you fear.

12/09/20004

TIPPING

I always tip fifteen percent in a real restaurant where the waiter actually does something, even though I object to the practice.

In America we profess our disapproval of elitism, exploitation, racketeering, extortion, panhandling and bribery. Tipping encourages all six.

Because it is assumed that waiters make part of their livings from tips, it is legal to pay them less than minimum wage. That's exploitation.

Tipping increases the cost of your meal without adding value. That's racketeering.

You are led to believe that if you don't tip you'll get poor service or visine in your coffee. That's extortion.

The flip side of extortion is bribery. Rather than paying to deflect the threat of something bad happening, the customer pays to deflect the threat of nothing good happening. If the customer wants good service he has to feed the birds.

Tipping turns waiters into beggars and hustlers sometimes with sob stories, flattery and other tactics to work the customer into buying the most expensive wine or the most expensive meal in order to get a bigger tip. That's panhandling.

Elitism. Class warfare. The practice of tipping puts the customer and waiter in conflict. The customer dangles the promise of a tip like a herring in front of a performing seal. It deprives the waiter of his self-respect. You don't tip a carpenter. You expect him to do his job well because he's a professional and he's respected in our society.

I find it objectionable that we make exceptions to minimum wage laws that require certain occupations to beg. I also think I'd enjoy my meal more and the waiter would enjoy his job more without the gamesmanship going on.

THE MEDAL OF FREEDOM

Congrats to Larry, Moe and Curly.

RED STATE BLUE STATE

This division is one insisted on by people in the blue states. The term "culture war" is one insisted upon by people in the blue states. Here's how all this happened:

There are a handful of social issues that are not acutely important to the nation as a whole. These issues are things like abortion, private gun ownership, gay marriage, death penalty, school prayer, "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, displaying the ten commandments in the courthouse or nativity scenes on the steps of the capital, confederate monuments, affirmative action, and I'm sure you can list a hundred more.

Not to say these issues are unimportant. It is to say that these issues are likely to be decided over the course of decades and the country as a whole will not face ruin if decisions on these issues are forever considered to be provisional.

These are also issues that are centered on ethics and morals and social values. Opinions. Values are things that one absorbs from a social environment. There are two basic social environmnets in the USA. Not Red State and Blue State but Big City and Small Town. The list of issues I made two paragraphs up divides right along these lines. Your Blue States tend to have lots of big cities.

Since World War Two, the Big City agenda has made gains for separation of church and state, for affirmative action, against death penalty, more gun laws and so on for sixty years straight with no major reversals on any issue. Nobody in the media ever declared a culture war.

All of a sudden here comes W with his surprisingly effective political machine. He's hitched his wagon to a huge, tireless constituency that cares deeply about that list of issues and feels very much put-upon that the city slickers have been pecking away at everything they hold dear for the last six decades. W apparently plans to deliver what they want, which is a reversal of the trend of the last half-century on that list of issues.

The people from the Big Cities can see that. They're not stupid. They see the list of candidates for appointments to the Supreme Court. They hear the rhetoric. They see the House and Senate in lock step with the White House. They certainly do understand that the Bush administration is about to let the air out of sixty years of hard-won progress on their social agenda.

The disagreements have always been here, but now the provincials are getting their way and it looks like in the near future the provincials are going to be getting their way a lot. Declarations of culture war and a nation divided are basically cries of surprise and panic by people who are accustomed to getting their way and who fear they might not be getting their way for a long time to come.

RTJ--12/14/2004

CORRECTION

I just heard an interview with Richard Viguerie on NPR. It looks like I was wrong in the rant above. He said that the Christian right had for a long time felt there was open war on their social values. So I was completely wrong in the rant above when I wrote that it was the media who just recently started describing the disagreement over these issues as a war.

RTJ--12/15/2004

BCS

In order for a team to maintain its standing in the BCS, it can't merely beat a weak opponent, it must beat them at least as badly as Oklahoma did.

I was always taught that it was unsportsmanlike, unchristian and unchivalrous to kick somebody while they're down. That a strong team would play its first string four quarters against a weak team for the sake of running up the score is anathema to the values I was brought up with. This program encourages brutality for its own sake. If we want to claim that sports teaches values, we might include mercy.

An overmatched team will suffer more injuries, so there's a practical reason to dispense with the BCS criteria. Also, the teams are encouraged to play the statistics rather than the game, judging the season like a fantasy football league.

The BCS was concocted in order to make national rankings less ambiguous, but after only two seasons we're seeing the problems caused by the good intentions of whoever came up with this scheme. What's wrong with deciding national rankings the old way? It's always going to be opinion anyway. The BCS algorithm is no less arbitrary. The old way, the season could end and then every fan could debate with every other fan for seven months which team actually was the best. It's only a game. The championship doesn't have to be definitive.

RTJ--12/20/2004

PRINCE HARRY GOES TO A COSTUME PARTY AS A NAZI

I've taken the liberty of composing an apology on behalf of Prince Harry. Here goes:

My fellow Britons. After long reflection and considerable soul searching I have concluded that I did nothing wrong and owe no one an apology.

I was invited to a costume party and I showed up wearing the costume of a World War II Nazi. Was it in bad taste? You damn right it was, Hoss. That's the point of costume parties and Halloween and all that, to have some fun and allow yourself to indulge in tasteless jokes. Half of the people at the party came as history's most nefarious criminals. There was at least one Jack the Ripper, a Lizzie Borden, a Blackbeard, one guy I think was supposed to be Vlad the Impaler, one Jeffrey Dahmer one O.J. Simpson and one Mel Brooks, although in the case of the last two I think I have to insert the word "alleged" in order to protect myself legally.

So just this one time the press can go piss up a rope. At a costume party people traditionally try to dress in a costume that is intentionally as far from their daily reality as possible. The notion that my costume reflected some kind of latent political sympathies is stupid and wrong.

I have never advocated violence and I have never contributed to the untimely death of anybody. The press, however, can not say the same, and furthermore the press has not apologized for its role in the death of the late Princess of Wales.

Speaking once again as myself.

This reminds me of the time David Bowie showed up at a press conference wearing a Nazi getup. The British press shit a brick. You guys (not just the British, but the world in general) wouldn't know a real Nazi if it waged a preemptive war on you. (Just so you know I'm not singling anybody out, consider that ALL wars are preemptive. Unless they start by appointment, somebody crosses a border and attacks somebody else first. The Nazis sent more armies across more peaceful borders than anybody else in the 20th century.) You're all preoccupied with the costume, and that's why they're going to sneak up on you again. They reincarnate about every seventy to ninety years (history's herpes) singing a different national anthem and getting away with the same old tricks because the people who are keeping watch are expecting them to show up in last season's costume.

Any group that's planning to grab that kind of massive despotic power is certainly going to go to some effort to look as much as possible unlike the last guy who tried.

And another thing....

The blowhards on the news are saying that Prince William should have realized that the costume might be offensive and should have persuaded his younger brother to choose another costume.

Those pundits have no older siblings. If they did they would know that no one on earth enjoys handing you a good ratf**k more than does your older brother. I've got an older sister, and when I was growing up she encouraged me in every social blunder I ever committed.

RTJ--1/15/2005

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