Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sartorial statements and other rants

Sometime before 2004, I used to encounter this guy--New Yorker by accent and attitude--outside the local hardware store. If I happened to have picked up my Red Sox hat on the way out the door, he'd invariably sing out "so how about those Sox?" This of course happened more often when the Sox record was unimpressive.

Eventually he said it once too often and I snapped back, "it's a hat."

My daughter brought me back a U of Texas t-shirt as a souvenir of her cross-country auto trip some years back. I gave up wearing it after hearing a number of actual U of T grads wish me "hook 'em, horns," or make the horns gesture. I figured out eventually that it was a social gesture, not an insult.

For some years, as part of my defence against the Beast, I have worn hoodies for most of the cold months. Now I learn that because I wear a hoodie, I must be a gangsta and therefore it's fair for any white guy packing to shoot me on sight.
This insight is of course courtesy of Geraldo Rivera. In media packed with entertainers playing journalists, Rivera has long stood alone in his idiocy. There was a slight window for doubt that he's a total doofus, but he has now slammed that shut. Even Fox must find him hard to stomach.

Speaking of idiot media: as I write, the Trayvon Martin backlash pack is in full cry. I'm not the first to wonder a) how it is that Mr. Zimmerman's alleged injuries at the hands of Mr. Martin did not come up until a month after the fact? and b) how it might be that the "stand your ground" defence wouldn't apply to someone armed with Skittles and Ice Tea confronted by a stranger packing heat? And oh so many other things. Note to the lawyers. If Mr. Z had his head pounded on the sidewalk by the vic, and there are (conveniently) no superficial wounds a month later, such trauma would likely leave brain lesions that will be detectable for quite some time yet. Evidence is extremely helpful.

The most remarkable feature of the health care pissing contest is the way that Republicans in general, and the TP in particular, fly passionately to the defence of people after something for nothing. Their darlings are people who can afford health care but don't buy it. They prefer to take their troubles to the nearest Emergency Department (ED) and plead lack of coverage to avoid paying most, or all, of their bill.

The availability of free coverage today (such as it is) was meant to provide care
to those who genuinely can't afford it, not to small business people suffering from Stage 4 cheaps, who won't even cover themselves for fear of cutting into their margin. Reactionaries have a word they like to apply to people they think are after something for nothing, when those people are poor, or old, or not them: freeloaders. It seems to fit the case here. We have private health insuorance, and one reason (the main one) that it costs so much is that we're paying not only for ourselves, and for the system capacity that goes to the indigent, but also for this sort of freeloader. Of course, the same rule is true for government subsidies to, say, oil companies. It's not freeloading when Republicans do it.

Speaking of freeloading, I've spent the last couple of days trying to get a MBTA senior discount pass. In theory, I'm eligible for this because I just had my 65th birthday.

In practice, well.... I went online to see what I could do to expedite the process. The answer is nothing. The T in its wisdom has merged the processes for senior cards and TAP cards (the latter being for people with disabilities). In doing so, any opportunity for an older, non-disabled person to fill out paperwork in advance has vanished. So yesterday I followed the instructions to Back Bay Station to fill out forms and file in person. A helpful T person inside the turnstiles directed me to the office, which is outside the turnstiles. There, a less helpful person said "the-system-is-down-call-tomorrow." Tomorrow is today, and I don't have enough time off to do that. I'll call next Monday, and I'm betting on the same thing happening. (I'm also betting the office still won't inform any T employee on the platform, so that people can turn around without paying a second fare.) The Monday after that I'm booked; the one after that is Patriot's Day, so they'll be closed. Come April 23, I wonder if "the system" will still be down.

Massachusetts residents are well aware of the MBTA's budget shortfall, and that the cuts the T will make to close the gap will be announced next week. Being more than a little paranoid, I have to wonder whether this is an unannounced part of the plan: simply stop enrolling new riders in the discount plans. That surely would meet Republican approval. Tough cookies if some senior has to go without their cat food dinner to ride the T, or if someone in a wheelchair has to ride their own two wheels from Lynn to Boston. There will be a later report.

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