September 1st, 2005

lex you idiot

He just can't help himself, folks

James Lileks, who is no more in control of his writing than a horse is in control of swatting flies, writes an extremely pissy column today that I won't go into since it's mostly more mid-life-crisis whingeing. But I will note that in the face of a massive natural disaster with a million people in need -- in fact, while actually linking to a charitable organization to which his readers can donate to aid those needy people -- he simply cannot resist a bit of completely pointless, arbitrary, mean, Frog-bashing. Discussing a FEMA webpage that lists charitable organizations that are lending a hand to the Katrina relief effort, he notes:

Last time I checked the French weren’t helping much, either – odd. The one place in the country where their guys could read the signs, and they don’t bother to pitch in.

You know, I'm probably over-hyperbolizing this, but what's the difference between this attitude and anti-Semitism? The guy is fucking poisoned by his hatred of France, for daring to oppose a war that has turned into a complete disaster. He can't even write about the relief effort for a giant catastrophe without slipping in some completely random poke at the worthless Frenchies. I'm sure he was wracking his brain to come up with a way to reference their alleged wartime cowardice and tendency towards capitulation, but he was probably just too tired.

(Another reason, BTW, I'm not reading the right-wing websites this week: I am 100% certain, with every fiber of my big fat being, that somewhere, as we speak, there are at least a thousand people desperately trying to come up with a way to blame this whole thing on Bill Clinton.)
flavored with age

Hex induction hour

Last night I was happy to hang out with the delicious janehex and her alleged husband, the delightful brianchurch. Rather than go out to dinner, they were kind enough to let me cook for them, and I threw together a fairly decent meal despite still having no access to a working oven. I then drove them around Chicago more or less at random, which is one of my favorite things to do, and hopefully was not too boring for them. Brian kept crying like a little girl whenever someone would mention all the teddy bears that have been submerged in New Orleans, and Jane got drunk on half a glass of wine and punched three cops, but other than that it was a lovely evening and I look forward to seeing them some more before they head back to SF and I head up to see the MN state fair, my girl, and her kid. Hooray for friends! Without them, I'd only have this talking pillowcase and the voices in my head, shin and left ventricle.
cap'n hedgehog reporting for duty

Lootpack

Based on what I have read on LiveJournal, heard on the news, and seen discussed by various pundits, I have compiled this list of what is and is not morally acceptable to steal in a crisis situation. Clip and save (paper copies only, laminate in case of heavy rains or flooding) for future reference.

OKAY TO STEAL: Basic survival needs for one's self and one's family. Examples:

- Food, unless it is unhealthful junk food. Just because your city is underwater is no excuse to eat Chee-Tos.
- Drink, unless it is alcohol. Just because your family just drowned is no excuse to get drunk.
- Clothing, unless it is 'ghetto'. For God's sake, be tasteful and steal some modest, mid-range threads and not those awful, showy Hilfiger clothes.
- Medicine, unless it is from a children's hospital. That should be left to get ruined by floodwaters, out of respect for the sick children who aren't there.
- Shelter, unless it is in someone else's house. You have a moral duty to sit on your own roof, not the roof of someone who makes more money than you.

IFFY: These things may or may not be okay to steal, depending on your circumstance. If you are in doubt, ask a policeman or a fireman.

- Transportation: you can steal a car if you need it to flee the city, but not if you just want to joyride. Also, you should steal only a very basic automobile, not one with power windows or a DVD player or anything frivolous like that.
- Footwear: you can steal the following things -- hiking boots, waders, slippers, children's shoes or steel-toed work boots. If you steal designer athletic shoes you are no better than Stalin.
- Drugs: it's okay to loot drugs if they are for medicinal purposes or if you are really, really sad or have a learning disorder and need to study while you're waiting for a helicopter to pick you up. You should never, ever take drugs that make you feel good.
- Tools: it is acceptable to loot household goods, tools and other gear from a Target or a Wal-Mart. It is not acceptable to loot them from a small, independently-owned business, because even though they're also insured, they're smaller and thus have more moral fiber.
- Money: stealing money is okay only if you use it to flee the city or buy food, not if you keep it to try and escape poverty. Also, you should be discreet and only steal from cash drawers or abandoned banks, not from morally unimpeachable sources like churches or casinos.

NOT OKAY TO STEAL: Some things are never okay to steal, because they are frivolous, immoral or tacky. Examples:

- Pornography. If you are not imaginative enough to come up with your own masturbation fantasies and not attractive enough to find a sex partner in the floating dormitory on which you will be spending the next two months, you must sublimate your sexual desire into something constructive like prayer or art. (Note: do not loot art supplies.)
- Firearms. Guns are bad and all the people who use them are bad except for the police and the army. If your neighborhood is overrun by gun-toting hoodlums, it is the better path to allow them to shoot you, secure in the knowledge that you will go to heaven, than to steal a gun in order to defend yourself. Also, if you steal a gun from Wal-Mart, it is your fault for being a bad person and not Wal-Mart's for selling guns.
- Electronics. Only low-class Negroes steal electronics. If you cannot afford these things, you simply should not have them, and besides, it's pointless to steal them since there's no power and probably there never will be. It's also true that it's pointless to leave them because they're only going to be destroyed by flooding, but I urge you not to think about that.
- Precious family heirlooms. It is the lowest kind of vulture who would take advantage of a disaster by obliterating someone else's entire history. Whatever you do, do not enter another person's house and steal their precious family heirlooms. My heirlooms include my computer, my CD changer, my musical instruments, my marijuana, and my vast collection of teen Asian lesbian pornography.
- Police gear. Do not steal a policeman's badge, hat, and squad car and then drive around the French Quarter blaring the sirens and yelling "WHOOT! WHOOT! I AM THE MAYOR OF AQUATOWN, OBEY MY COMMANDS!". Sure, it would be funny, but it is wrong.

BTW, lest you think I exaggerate the ludicriously overblown coverage of the looting, herewith this report from correspondent Tom Block:

Just now Bob Woodruff of ABC News caught up with a black male young adult -- who we'd just seen taking all of a single Coke and one pastry out of a convenience store -- and began chiding him. "You think that's okay?" demanded Woodruff, and this is as good a point as any to point out that the looter was literally half of Woodruff's size. The looter looked confusedly at the sagging, baggy little backpack he was carrying and back up at the towering Woodruff, who added sternly, "You're stealing!" The camera cut away to some other example of unspeakable moral bedlam at that point...