Saturday, October 10, 2015

How To Steal Your Kids' Halloween Candy And Get Away With It

Nothing beats the joy a child experiences when he or she brings home a load of delicious candy on Halloween. And nothing beats the joy you can experience as a parent when you steal it. Now, obviously you don't want your child to think you've betrayed their trust. This is why it's absolutely necessary that you don't get caught. Do it right. Learning how to deceive your kids is one of the most important things you'll ever do for them.

With candy-stealing, as with so much else in raising youngsters... the biggest mistake parents make is to act immorally rather than amorally. You tell yourself you're never going to lie to them or secretly take their things, and then eventually when you break down and do it, you are disorganized and they find out. You are a person with an ethical code who doesn't live up to that code, so your guilt trips you up. Instead you should be a person who realizes that raising children means you need to shed your ethical code completely and live beyond ridiculous concepts of good and evil. Here's how:

1. Steal big and steal early. Don't swipe their candy piece by piece as you get hungry. Taking most of their treats later means their pile is smaller and the theft is easier to notice. Plus in early November, your kids are no longer confused by a sugar rush and exhausted by the excitement of trick or treating. The time to strike is immediately after they pass out on October 31. At this point take everything you can get away with, store it in a secure location far away from their bags, and forage from that pile for the duration of the post-Halloween season.

2. For younger children, use development milestones against them. The PBS Parents webpage has an excellent year-by-year description of what your children understand about numbers and quantities. The average two year-old "identifies three or more items as 'many,'" according to the site. That sounds like a two year-old who won't miss a vat quantity of mini Snickers bars! Most three year-olds can count items up to five. At four and five years, kids can count items up to 10. And so on. Obviously each child is different and development changes happen rapidly - any parent wanting to steal from his kid needs to keep that in mind. Play a couple of math games with your kids in the week before the big day. It'll be great for both of you.

3. For older children, take photos of everything and steal from them in equal amounts. You need an exterior and an interior shot of each stash of candy (if they're all together, one exterior shot will probably do). You want to be able to duplicate how the bag or plastic pumpkin looks sitting on the shelf or table, so that it doesn't appear disturbed. The interior shot is going to help you figure out what pieces of candy are most prominent on the top part of the pile. After you do this, your job is to empty out the candy, take whatever you can manage below the top layer, and leave a quantity behind so there's still enough bulk to convince your kids nothing's been taken. You'll use the photos to reassemble their candy stashes so they appear undisturbed. Do each stash separately so you don't mix them! All this might seem like it's too much work, but you want them to be completely convinced the next morning that they have the same amount of candy. This will become the new reality, and you'll have your haul safely stored away.

4. Live the lie. If you watched the Lufthansa heist in Goodfellas you know that how you behave in the aftermath of a major theft is crucial. Don't get careless now. You should practice discipline about when you eat the candy and especially what you do with the wrappers. Have a separate bag for empties with your stolen loot. Do not dump evidence of your crime into a kitchen trash bag and especially not into a small trash bin somewhere in the house. Now comes the really hard part: You need to act as if you are a parent who hasn't stolen a load of candy from his or her kids. And what does such a parent do? A parent like that mooches candy openly. Yes, you need to ask your kids for candy occasionally. I know this sounds particularly egregious - but if you don't commit to the deception they're going to find out. At least once a day, or whenever they raid their own bags, give them a look that makes them feel a little guilty. Bug them. That sickening twinge in your conscience? It's weakness, and it's leaving you. Next time it'll be easier, I promise. And you're going to need to lie to them in ways that are much, much worse, in the coming years before they head off to college.

Parenting is all about making sacrifices.

Our National Gun Deaths - America's Bloodiest And Least Successful War

"More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history." This startling quote appears in a New York Times essay by Nicholas Kristof. He goes on to write that every six months gun deaths in America take the same number of lives as were killed in the last 25 years from terrorist attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Martin Grandjean's blog digs into Kristof's numbers - with links to factchecking sources - and puts them into a chart.

Our domestic firearm deaths are tragic beyond any war we've ever fought. They are tragic beyond all the wars we've fought stacked on top of each other.

Conservatives argue that this is the price we pay for freedom. Widespread gun ownership protects ordinary citizens from government tyranny. But the beauty of Kristof's quote is that it allows us to check these assertions.

Since 1968, has gun ownership actually protected us from having our rights taken away by our government?
Has it prevented widespread erosion of our civil liberties since that year?
Has it prevented widespread government spying on ordinary people?
Has it prevented the government from imprisoning a large portion of the population for nonviolent offenses in a war on drugs no one thinks is useful or necessary?
Has it prevented or checked the militarization of police forces? Has it prevented abuses and wrongful deaths?
Has it kept your government transparent and responsive? Do you know what your government is doing here and overseas? Can you control it?
Has it prevented government property seizures by abuse of eminent domain?
Has it prevented a tiny sliver of extremely wealthy people from dominating the political system so that it is unresponsive to ordinary people?

Since 1968, people have been dying all over this country in what conservatives say is an attempt to keep the US from becoming a police state.

Did it work?
Or are all these deaths the casualties in one more failed war?

Friday, October 9, 2015

10 Questions About How Kevin McCarthy Said The GOP Might Have To Hit "Rock Bottom"

According to an article in Think Progress"House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told the National Review that the House Republican conference may 'have to hit rock bottom' before the chamber fully functions again."

For those of us who've been following the GOP this prompts questions:

1. Wait, the GOP hasn't already hit rock bottom yet? Are you serious?
2. What would "rock bottom" look like for the GOP? What would that involve?
3. Would the country survive this bottom-hitting intact, or would it be incinerated or enter a kind of Handmaid's Tale/Hunger Games dystopian mashup?
4. So, really... the GOP - the Republican Party - has not actually hit rock bottom? Even though Donald Trump is the frontrunner? They actually have farther down to go?
5. Would hitting rock bottom smash the GOP into a thousand little pieces, and will those pieces all post racist memes on Facebook, and can I block them now?
6. Would hitting rock bottom make the GOP into a reformed version of itself, which will then go through a process of evolution and self-discovery, and maybe even - No. Fuck that. That wouldn't happen. [Cancel 6]
7. Is Ted Cruz, as a Republican, hurtling toward this rock bottom? Or is he already down there waiting?
8. Are we even sure rock bottom exists as a real place? Are we sure the GOP can't go on descending indefinitely, since they don't believe in natural science?
9. How rocky are we talking? Jagged rocks, right? They're not cobblestones or skipping pebbles, or anything smooth, are they?
10. How exactly will they blame this on Barack Obama?

Okay, Which One Of Us Is The BAD Guy With The Gun?

Look, let's quit for a minute. Hey. Halt! Ceasefire! Everybody quit it!

You can all stay where you are. Stay behind cover and just... just listen to me. Thanks. Now the cops are going to be here soon, and we're going to have to give them a statement about how we saved this food court from a madman and proved that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

So, did we already kill the bad guy, or not? I don't see a dead guy with a gun. I can see all of the victims, and none of them are armed. There was a lot of smoke, and everybody kept blasting for a long time, so I'm not clear on this. Is one of us the bad guy?

Okay, who came to the food court with a plan to kill a dozen people? Anyone want to speak up? C'mon, now's the time. You'll get on Youtube.

There's me - I'm Steve, the guy with the Beretta and the Coca-Cola Jesus shirt. Over near the Panda Express, there's the guy with the Glock and the Trump hat. Hey, you! Are you the one who came here to kill everyone, or are you defending your community using your 2A rights? No? That Sig Sauer lady near the candle kiosk. Ma'am, could you give us an answer on this? Hello? Wolf or sheepdog?

Okay, it's not her. So it's the guy with the beard or his friend... No? Not you either?

Well, somebody's scheme to prey on the innocent just went into action. It wasn't elves who killed that old woman near the movie theater, I'll tell you that much.

Who started firing? Yo, Trump/Glock, I saw you aiming for whoever was hiding near the kid eating the chocolate Blizzard over by the... You weren't aiming at anyone? Christ, why did you start shooting? I was following your lead. I thought the guy was right next to him, and...

No, I didn't hit the kid, okay? My aim's better than that. I'm certain. I'm completely, absolutely almost certain.

Hey, someone shot first, and that person is clearly a predator. I know it wasn't me, because I heard a small-caliber popping sound near the old lady, and my weekend survival camp training kicked in. I heard it clearly. That woman over there - right next to the movie theater's snack bar.

Oh... yeah, I see it now. Well... um. Well, I just hope none of this causes you to stop supporting the Second Amendment, okay? The point is, if there had been a bad guy here, we probably could have handled the situation.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Even Republicans Can't Work With Republicans

The chaos in the House Leadership just proves something the rest of us learned awhile ago.

You can't work with Republicans. Even Republicans know this now.

Their only job is to keep someone in the Number 3 slot in government, and that person's only job is to disagree with whatever Barack Obama says, and eventually disagree with whatever the next president says, because that president will also be a Democrat.

You had one job, guys.

No one expects you to govern. No one expects you to make policy. No one expects you to vote for laws. No one even really expects you to keep yourself from shutting down the entire government in a tantrum. Hell, I'm a little surprised the pope came to speak to you and you actually sat and listened to him instead of jumping up and accusing him of being the Antichrist.

Our expectations of the GOP get lower and lower every year, and somehow you people manage to limbo under that mother.

Part of why the GOP can't do anything is that it no longer functions like an actual party. The conservatives have excommunicated the establishment, and the racist Trump supporters have excommunicated the conservatives. Eventually Trump's going to drop out, and the conservatives will excommunicate the Trump supporters, along with Trump himself. Trump of course, can't do any good thing for any other human being on the planet. Which is why he's winning their primary right now.

If you are a Republican you think all the other Republicans aren't Republican enough. And working with Democrats is out of the question.

None of them really wants to do this government thing. Government is evil after all. What they need - all of them; every one - is really just a nice comfy shack out in the woods where they can each work on their own 2,000 page manifesto.

Let's do what we can to make that happen.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Believe In Politicizing Tragedy

As many of you know I'm a liberal. So one of my favorite things to do - when I'm not burning American flags and downvoting YouTube videos of Lee Greenwood - is politicize tragedy. I love exploiting horror and suffering for political gain. You show me some awful festival of death that just happened, and the first thing I want to do is hook this on the Republicans. It feels like discovering that the National has a new album coming out. Mwah. Perfect.

I used to feel guilty about my habit, but I don't anymore. I'm proud of politicizing tragedy, and I want to invite you to join me. Many tragedies should be politicized, because many tragedies could have been prevented with the right policies.

When someone walks into a school or a movie theater and murders a crowd with an assault rifle or a powerful handgun, it's time to remind the country that one party is trying to regulate gun sales, and the other is doing everything they can to sabotage action.

When an intense storm kills people and wrecks infrastructure, we should point out that one party accepts the scientific consensus about the dangers of global warming, and the other denies it because the oil lobby owns its politicians.

And whenever someone murders a person because of their race, their gender, or their sexual orientation, it's appropriate - no, it's a duty - to make sure everyone remembers that one party is full of people who have spent decades catering to bigots, opposing legislation that might provide justice and relief, and mocking those who are different from their idea of a citizen.

One side of the political fence believes that the government can make laws and regulations to bring greater safety and dignity to the lives of millions. One side of the political fence believes that this is actually why we have government in the first place. The other side wants to posture and rant and jam up the gears so nothing gets done, because they really do believe anything government does will be evil.

We're going to face mind-bending challenges in the next hundred years. We're going to need government to do things. And it's simply not an acceptable response to try to sabotage it at every decision point.

So you're goddamn right I'm going to politicize tragedy. It would be irresponsible not to.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Frankly Curious" Has Been Writing Some Great Posts About Global Warming

Awhile back I spotlighted the blog "Frankly Curious," whose writer is a climate change scientist. Frank Moraes has been busy on the subject of global warming lately, and you should check out the result.

His most recent post is about India's plan to cut its emissions:

First it was China. And this last week, India Unveils Climate Change Plan. So now the first and third biggest greenhouse gas polluters have come out with plans to cut their emissions. In case you were wondering, we are now number two. But when it comes to per capita greenhouse emissions, we are still number one!

As you can expect people in the GOP have been using pollution by India and China as an excuse to do nothing. But that excuse is thinning.

Moraes also wrote a post about how Exxon's own scientists uncovered evidence of climate change years ago, but the company has pushed back against this in a way that's reminiscent of the tobacco industry. He has a pile of great links in these pieces, and his personal experience with this stuff is disturbing and fascinating.
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