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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I can see why gay couples would want to get married. There's something about making that public commitment that helps to build a foundation under a relationship, to help it withstand the tremors of life and the daily stresses that every relationship faces. And it's good to have a legal structure to work within, to help you obtain rights (such as the right to visit your spouse in the hospital, or to add him/her to your group health insurance), and to clarify issues such as property and inheritance rights.

What I don't understand is all of the objection to it.

Honestly, now...if you aren't gay, how is your life going to change in any way if gays are allowed to marry? Are your breakfast eggs going to taste different? Are your car's tires going to go flat? Is your hair going to fall out?

The President says that gay marriage "threatens the institution of marriage." But he doesn't say exactly how it threatens the institution of marriage. If gays marry, is my own heterosexual marriage in some way diminished? Am I, in some way, less married than I am without gay marriages?

Is there some aspect to gay marriages that I don't know about, like some hidden clause that forces divorce on all heterosexual couples and makes them marry someone of their own sex?

Our President feels that the issue of gay marriage poses such a monumental risk to our society that it justifies altering the Constitution to make sure that gays don't marry.

Why?

Gee, you don't suppose this could be a diversionary tactic to distract Americans from the fact that the national debt is higher than ever, that more Americans are out of work, that they're mired in a war they didn't need, that the air they breathe and the water they drink are dirtier now than they were three years ago, etc. etc. etc.?

The saddest fact, though, is that Americans fall for it every time, stupidly marching off with their pitchforks and torches everytime somebody yells "Monster!"

J. Knight's AtomBrain.com

Monday, February 23, 2004

Why I'm Voting for Nader in 2004

I was practically giddy with delight when Ralph Nader announced that he would be running for President in 2004. I knew I was feeling giddy because I felt exactly the way I feel every day of my life, especially when I'm talking to the snails in my garden, especially Pookie, my favorite.

I voted for Nader in 2000 because there just wasn't a tinker's doggone-it difference between the Republican and the Democratic candidates. For one thing, they both wore suits! And shoes! And neither one wore a hair wreath of dried flowers.

Okay, Nader wore a suit, too, and didn't wear flowers in his hair, but he looked bad in a suit and uncomfortable, as if his shoes hurt his feet. (Someone should tell him about Rockports!) He pointed out how much the same the Republican and Democratic candidates were.

For example, take the issue of the Environment, which I think is Very Important because we all owe our lives to the Earth Goddess Gaia. George W. Bush, the Republican (I think) candidate, was a Texas oil man, the son of a Texas oil man, running with another oil man. As an "alternative" we had Al Gore (who I believe was the Democratic candidate), who wrote a book called Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, in which he says, "We must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization."

Now what kind of choice is that?

Under George W. Bush, the environment has taken the biggest hit since some big boxer hit some other big boxer really, really hard. But I'm sure that Al Gore would have been just as bad (see my earlier comment about shoes).

So I voted for Ralph Nader. I know that the polls showed that he had about one-zillionth of the vote, but you know what? Sometimes the polls are wrong! Remember that picture of Truman (I think) holding up the newspaper proclaiming that Dewey (I think) had won? Remember that guy on TV proclaiming that Gore had won in Florida? Which only goes to prove that polls don't mean anything and maybe Ralph Nader did have a snowball-in-heck's chance of winning with less than 3% of the popular vote.

And besides, no one asked me who I was voting for, and this is, ultimately, all about me.

Even figuring that the polls might be somewhat close to right, I voted for Nader because I wanted to send a message to the Democricans and Republicrats that I didn't like either one of them. So far, there's been no indication that anyone, anywhere has paid any attention to my message, but that's only because everybody else in the world is a doodoo-head. Nobody has called and asked me what I thought, not even NPR. They don't understand that it's all about me, but that just shows how much (little) they know!

Now, in 2004, I have another chance to vote for Ralph Nader and I'm going to take it! I'm going to send my message again to the World At Large that I don't like either the Republican candidate (George W. Bush) or the Democratic candidate (whom I don't know who it will be yet, but I don't like him already). This time the World will take notice! I know it! There's this...I don't know what to call it so I'll call it a "vibe"...this Vibe resonating through the Universe that is neither Republican nor Democrat, that is pure and unhindered by rational thought, that will sweep Ralph Nader into the highest office in America!

Join with me, brothers and sisters! Let us join hands and surrender ourselves...especially our intellects...to the Cosmic Vibe and vote for Ralph Nader in 2004! We can do it this time, I just know it! Clap your hands! Clap your hands if you believe in Fairies! Clap your hands if you want Tinker Bell to live! Clap, my brothers and sisters! Clap! Clap!

Visit J. Knight's AtomBrain.com

Friday, February 20, 2004

I seem to spend a lot of time in the crawlspace.

I hate the crawlspace. The floor is dirt. It's full of spiders (I counted 70 black widow nests on one trip). I have to crawl through it on my belly...hence the name. Floor joists are hard...I should know, I've banged my head on enough of them. After a couple of hours in the crawlspace, I cough up black dirt. I could happily spend the rest of my allotted days without ever again visiting the crawlspace

Still, as it is with the grocery store, the car shop, and Burbank, I'm always having to go there for some reason.

A couple of weeks ago it was to install a second satellite line so that I could record one thing on TiVo and watch something else. The satellite lines run from the dish to the crawlspace where they get grounded to a water pipe, then back up through the floor to the living room.

There's a single entrance to the crawlspace. It's located at one corner of the house. Guess where the living room is, where I have to drill a hole in the floor for the satellite line, where I have to crawl to to shove the line up through the hole. Of course: the living room is at the corner furthest away from the entrance to the crawlspace. It's a long, dirty, head-banging crawl that inevitably has to be made several times because I need a wrench I didn't bring with me or I stick the wire up through the hole and then when I'm upstairs I knock the wire back down through the hole and into the crawlspace again.

On that trip I discovered the ant colony flourishing under the bathtub drain pipe, which explained the continual parade of ants in the bathtub. So my next expedition to the crawlspace was to plant some ant traps. (These are like mouse traps but much, much smaller.)

I spent much of yesterday in the crawlspace. We've been watching the dryer take longer and longer to dry a load of clothes, until it reached the point where we were drying each sock separately and it still took thirty minutes. I decided it was time to clean the lint out of the dryer vent.

In modern houses, dryers are located next to outside walls so that they vent warm, moist air and lint quickly and efficiently to the out of doors. (I suspect that white lung disease among rats has gone up significantly since the advent of clothes dryers.) I don't live in a modern house. My house was built in 1950. I say that it was designed by a madman and built by a drunk.

I guess people didn't wash clothes back in 1950 because there's no laundry room or any place for one in my house. We ended up putting a stacked washer/dryer in a closet in the middle of the house. Our dryer vent is the Alaska Pipeline of dryer vents. It runs from the dryer down through the floor into the crawlspace, then across the house, up over the foundation and out the side of the house. Cleaning it requires taking it all out, which is why I put it off for about five years too long.

Once I had it all out, I decided to improve on it. I bought new, better, bigger vent material and tweaked the engineering. Now the dryer works great and I have brand new venting pipes to admire the next time I'm in the crawlspace. Which will probably be soon. I don't know when or why, but I know I'll be drawn to the crawlspace like Ralph Nader to a Presidential election.

Speaking of whom: He's actually considering running again in 2004. Can you believe that? After putting Bush into the White House in 2000 (well, him and Justice Scalia), Nader still doesn't grasp the concept of "spoiler." If he chooses to run again in 2004, and Bush gets re-elected (or re-appointed), I may go into hiding for the next four years.

Look for me in the crawlspace.

J. Knight's AtomBrain.com

For more info on Ralph Nader's 2004 Presidential bid, go here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I have to say that last week was one of the suckiest for me in many a moon.

Let's start with the good news: I had work. My pals at Disney, Bob Roth and Bill Motz, had hired me to write a Brandy and Mr. Whiskers cartoon. I'd gotten a premise and an outline approved, and they'd given me the go-ahead to write the script. I had a deadline of one week to write something screamingly funny.

Then the you-know-what began hitting the fan.

First, the head cold I'd been battling for several weeks kicked in with a vengeance. I'd wake up in the night gasping for air while my respiratory system clogged itself with excretions. I upped my dosages of antihistamines and nasal decongestants, which left me in a drugged haze during many of my waking hours, including those that occurred in the middle of the night.

On Monday morning I received a telephone call that a dear friend back home in Kansas had died suddenly, a young divorced woman with a ten-year-old son. I don't want to go into detail, but the circumstances were not pleasant and enough questions remained unanswered that, as if the shock of the death weren't enough, my mind was troubled. That news came at 7:00 a.m.

At 8:00 a.m. I received word that a dog I'd been nursing for two weeks, who had seemed to have a case of kennel cough, had passed away in the night.

(The previous week had been hellish, also, as I watched this emaciated little waif go steadily downhill, become weaker and weaker with each passing day, until we finally had left her with the vet for emergency treatment.)

This left us with her sister (or mother, we aren't sure which, as the two dogs had been abandoned by their owner and we didn't know their histories), who was also sick with the same inscrutable illness, possibly distemper. The vet instructed me in giving sub-cutaneous injections of fluids, which I did daily along with the rest of the medical regimen, but the second dog also appeared to be getting worse.

So, with two deaths hanging over my head, my own health making me miserable, and bearing significant nursing duties, I had to make time to sit down at the computer and write a bunch of wacky stuff that would make children laugh.

I wrote as much as I could on Brandy and Mr. Whiskers in between telephone calls to and from Kansas, driving to and from the vet, nursing the sick dog and consoling the dog rescue lady, and blowing my nose, sucking on my inhaler and feeling sorry for myself.

I tried to find solace in the funny papers and encountered this advice from Dogbert: "Don't think of yourself as an organic pain collector racing toward oblivion."

That was last week.

This week: The second dog is marginally better. The downhill slide has been, apparently, arrested and she is eating food and drinking water. I'm on the mend myself. The cartoon script was finished and turned in on time, and I think it's pretty darned funny, despite the odds against it.

Okay...since the universe craves balance, I'm sure that it has been waiting for the cue that'll send something unbelievably wonderful showering down like a welcome summer rain on the parched earth of my wretched soul.

I'm ready, Universe.

Anytime.

Yoo-hoo....

J. Knight's AtomBrain.com

Friday, February 06, 2004

I'm pissed off.

Julie and I foster dogs that have been retrieved from the animal shelter. We hang onto them for a week or two or three until we can find homes for them, working through a rescue group called Lhasa Happy Homes.

So we got two sweet little mutts named Sunny and Rayne. (You can see their pictures on my website at AtomBrain.com). Lhasa Happy Homes has a new owner for both dogs as soon as they get healthy, and there's the rub.

Both arrived from the shelter with kennel cough, which is a contagious disease, like a cold, but is not usually life-threatening. Now it looks like they may have distemper, picked up at the shelter, which is also very contagious, but there's no cure and it's a terminal illness. I've seen one dog dying of distemper this year and believe me, it's a miserable way to go. Euthanasia arrives as a blessing.

The thing is, distemper is easy to prevent with a standard vaccination. Apparently, Sunny and Rayne's previous owner (who didn't want to spend the money to bail their dogs out of the shelter, so just left them there) also didn't give them their shots.

Now here I am, trying to save a few dogs, and suddenly I'm running a dog hospice for two terminal dogs who would have had long, happy lives but who are going to die in the next few days because their goddamn owner didn't get them their shots.

It's breaking my heart, watching these two sweethearts wither away before my eyes.

There is some hope. Maybe it isn't distemper, maybe it's some other infection. They won't eat, one of them won't drink, but we're force feeding them and dosing them with antibiotics. They may pull through.

Is it likely? No. But we're doing what we can, which is a helluva lot more than their previous owner did.

So I'm pissed off.

If you're the praying sort, shoot some prayers skyward for Sunny and Rayne. Thanks.




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