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Friday, April 19, 2002

Breaking News

Apparently talks have broken down between the Arthur Anderson accounting firm and the Federal government. Prosecutors observe that Anderson's May 6th trial date leaves only sixteen days to negotiate a settlement, but spokesmen for Anderson insist that by their reckoning, there are really 3,438 days left.

"They have their numbers, and we have ours," noted an Anderson official who asked to remain anonymous.

Talks reportedly ended after Anderson representatives presented Federal officials with a bill for $47 billion. When questioned about the bill, an Anderson spokesman responded somewhat tersely, "Look, everybody pays us. We're Arthur f****** Anderson."

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)

The Intrepid Traveler Returns

I've made several recent trips through the upper class cultural ghetto that is the modern airport, with its Waldenbooks stores extruding the latest Ken Blanchard schlock, its bars replete with chattering salesmen in unnecessarily bright shoes, its throngs of sorority clones yapping incessantly on their fruit-colored cell phones, and its seeming endless supply of televisions invading every corner of auditory space. Why anthropologists study the root-gathering rituals of East Bornea is beyond me; someone should study why Americans believe that getting on the plane first enables them to arrive one hot second faster than the people whose section has actually been called for boarding.

I'm not sure how much longer flight attendants expect 9/11 to serve as a free pass to be rude and unhelpful without fear of complaint from sympathetic passengers. The attendants in my path had best check the expiration date, however, because the next one who grumbles when I ask for a second shot glass of water is going to get one of those ice boulders that take up 98% of the cup's volume in her pasty painted forehead.

I'm sure that's a federal crime, and perhaps now writing about it is as well, given Norman Mineta's zeal for any stricture that promises to inconvenience the maximum number of travelers while simultaneously protecting the delicate psyches of young men named Mohammed who use Saudi traveler's checks to purchase their one-way tickets. I witnessed a maddening example of this phenomenon: security agents randomly pulling people out of the boarding line for body searches chose the woman behind me, and as they escorted her to a space where they could pull out her personal things for the greatest number of people to see, one of them explained, "we need some females." Oh, I see. Diversity trumps security.

Now, last I checked, approximately 100% of the September 11 hijackers were men, and approximately 100% of the people who expressed support for them were Jew-hating Muslims and French intellectuals (the moral distinctions between these two, of course, being somewhat blurry). How this translates into searching the underwear of 60 year-old Lois Rosenbaum from Schenectady is a calculation I cannot perform. Logic doesn't seem to be Mineta's strong suit, however. This Japanese-American intern camp survivor was an affirmative action hire intended to assuage our collective racial guilt with minimal cost back when the Department of Transportation seemed a safe place for a Republican president to put a Democrat -- a modern-day indulgence of sorts. But last fall's tragedy has transformed this cheap grace into a scourge, and we each willingly accept it across the back because in our heart of hearts we want every male airplane passenger of seeming Middle Eastern descent to get a comprehensive rectal exam before boarding our plane. And this, of course, is one of the New Sins, right up there with believing that most of the homeless are drunks, and that Monica Lewinsky's parents raised a slut.

In short, common sense has become something muttered under one's breath, something we apologize for when it accidentally slips out, something to be ruthlessly purged from our social norms and public policies lest, God forbid, somebody gets his tender little feelings hurt. All of this is a roundabout way of saying that, as I grow older, $5 for an airplane cocktail doesn't seem so expensive.

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)

Reason #1,037 why I will never be a professor

From the latest edition of the academic journal Organization:

"Abstract Ethics, Embodied Ethics: The Strange Marriage of Foucault and Positivism in Labour Process Theory"

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)

Wednesday, April 17, 2002


Excerpt from the pre-takeoff cell phone conversation of a really large woman sitting next to me on the plane:

"Girl, I got so sick on my last flight. Mmm-hmm, bad motion sickness." (She checks the seat pocket for the sick bag). "Mmm-hmm. Well, I'll just pray this time is better."

Me too, sister.

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)

Monday, April 15, 2002

Iron Man No More

Well it was bound to happen -- last week I broke my streak of successive weekday posts. I'm traveling a lot this month (again today!), and though that exposes me to broad swaths of humanity meriting ridicule, it also saps my energy so that I can do nothing at the end of the day but curl into a fetal position on my hotel bed and watch "CHiPS" reruns. That one where Ponch and John learn how to jet-ski to a background of 1970's porn music is a classic.

Anyway, I have a ton of emails which largely fall into one of two camps:

1) Hey, why aren't you posting more? and,

2) You insensitive moron, why are you posting this crap?

I promise to reply to all of you, even the guy who suggested I'm a worthy target of homosexual rape. Especially you, sweetie. As always, I'll do it in pithy fashion here, exposing you all to the public applause or opprobrium you deserve.

posted by Woodlief | link | (0)