Thursday, May 20, 2010

Re: Senate Passes Financial Overhaul Bill

in re: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/21/business/21regulate.html?hp

Never have so many people who know so little about finance been so sure about a subject so fiduciary.  Now, as a plumber by trade (plumbing the depths of my infinite loneliness on this Blog), I have never used the word "fiduciary" until right now, and had you asked me yesterday what "fiduciary" meant, I would have guessed it referred to some sort of petting zoo for vaginal cleansers. But now that I have been involuntarily drafted into the Main Street army in the war against Wall Street (actually "War against Wall Street II," the first War Against Wall Street being waged by the successful(!) Committee to Nominate Fatal Attraction for Best Picture, 1987), now that I have been mindlessly pitted against the bankers, I sling the Street slang around glancingly, carelessly, just in case somewhere in my nonsensical rabble-rousing and horse-shit-straganza there happens to lie a salient point about the current crisis.

As a member of the Sharks (as the Wall Street team can only be the Jets (e.g. they fly in private ones)), I know three things about all investment bankers:
1. They have fat fingers.
2. They root for the Yankees.
3. They deserve to have the everloving shit taxed out of them.

Point number three is one that everyone seems to agree on, or so it seems to me, from the snippets of commentary I happen to catch while scrolling as fast as my pg dn button can go through the Reader's Recommendation comments on the New York Times website, and from absently watching MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, Bloomberg News, and CNN simultaneously (hey Toshiba, your new PIPIPIPIP is great!);  this is agreed upon by all people who live on Main Street (and for those of you late to the game, all of us non-bank-billionaire regular folk live on Main Street, even though real estate on Main Street is notoriously more expensive than it is on smaller, less desirable thoroughfares).

What good are these salami-necked pinstriped ass-caps doing for our nation that warrants such excessive salaries and exorbitant bonii (and let us not allow our populist anger to damage our grammar)? Shouldn't this invisibly-earned money be going to people who more directly impact our daily lives--teachers, firemen, pornographers, local governments, fetish pornographers, pornographic fetishists, graphopornical fish thiefs, fishological thrift fags? Should penny-pinching homosexual icthyophiles go without basic medical insurance just because their lobby isn't as powerful as the bankers'?

I say no, and everyone else does, too, and not just because we are the Sharks and have a natural affinity for fish-lovers. Sharks are mammals, R-tard, and everyone knows that; and what's more, Goldman Sachs can hold my balls if they think that anyone besides its employees and members of the Reagan Administration would call foul if the bankers' bonii (I know this arcane plural because I didn't major in Finance) were heavily taxed or simply taken away (because, as we learned from Reaganomics, when you tax legally-earned income, socialism therefore Hitler Q.E.D.).

It won't happen, of course. The bankers are too powerful. They always get their way--I think we've all read the first 19 pages of Bonfire of the Vanities (dude was livin' it UP!). It also won't happen because excessive taxation isn't fair, because Hitler, because I suppose it might not be legal, and also, let us not forget another cornerstone of American history, that just because several companies were propped up by taxpayers doesn't mean that a bunch of already well-off men who wouldn't even have jobs any more in the first place don't deserve their bonii that put them 9,000,000% over the poverty line. It wouldn't be fair, Mussolini, so stop suggesting it, Chiang Kai Shek.

The financial overhaul bill passed by the Senate, and the driving force behind this post (beside the titanic rage constantly boiling in my impoverished blood (I would get a pill for it, but I can't afford health insurance)), will probably do little to Robin Hood the everloving shit out of the bankers. The buzzword of the bill is "oversight," and as we all know, the best thing that ever comes out of "oversight" is a peek at a naked lady's boobies through an apartment window visible from the top of the Empire State Building. Yes, I have very little faith in government oversight, given that the government already oversees KFC, which it not only allowed to mass produce the globular calorie Clogzilla known as the Double Down, but that has also has yet to arrest and imprison the creator of this homegrown enemy to the United States.

No, government oversight has not led to the squashing of the Double Down, and now it will more than likely allow the financial double down to continue ad infinitum, or at least until everything explodes again and a fatcat is forcibly dragged from his Box Seats during the afternoon game of a weekend Subway Series, his fat fingers frantically BBMing his desperate Yale summer interns for "hgel[p!!!@!" I hope such an ugly scene at such an ugly ballpark need not take place, that the battle of the Jets versus the Sharks never comes to blows or riots (see: Thailand (This Land Is)), that the war remains one of words and snapping (though we all doubt the Jets' ability to snap, what with those fat sweaty fingers and all); and if I had two wishes, I would also wish that one day the economy will be well enough that I can buy my modest suburban home, at a reasonable interest rate, with no risk of sudden unemployment or foreclosure, and that, on that Saturday afternoon while the fat-fingered Goldman man enjoys his overpaid baseball team from his overpaid baseball seat, I can enjoy a leisurely day off with my kids, with enough disposable income to afford the entrance to the new, State-funded New Jersey Fiduciary and Petting Zoo.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Elena Kagan: A Perspective

That hearty clinking of highball glasses you heard coming from Central New Jersey last week was Princeton University's reaction to the news that Barack Obama had nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Following Samuel Alito '72 and Sonia Sotomayor '76, Kagan '81 would be the third Princetonian in a row to join the Supreme Court, and the second in a row that we could actually be proud of. More specifically, she would be the second consecutive Princeton woman to be Supreme Court Justice, which leads me to believe that once Anthony Kennedy retires, Brooke Shields is going to be a shoo-in. I have also heard it mentioned that Michelle Obama is a candidate for the next opening, which would thus complete the highly difficult FLOTUS to SCOTUS, also the name of the highest-grossing Yiddish language buddy-cop film of all time.

Now, when I heard that Kagan had been nominated, my first thought was, "What legal expertise does the vagina strength-training lady have?" And my second thought, after a much edifying Google search, was, "What are the obstacles to her success?"

There are two big concerns about Kagan going into the confirmation process; let's start with the one that isn't a disgusting, backwards-thinking, narrow-minded generalization based on one's haircut.

Kagan would be unique on the bench as not just the only sitting justice whose name sounds like an outburst by Dr. Frink ("Ah Elena Kagan glavin flavin!") but also as the only justice who has never previously served as a judge. Personally, I'm not overly concerned about this supposed lack of experience; I was never unemployed before this current stretch of unemployment, and I find myself really thriving in it. Furthermore, if you know of any U.S. Senators who are wary of Kagan's inexperience, send me their email addresses, as I can forward them several very persuasive videos of girls doing things for the first time and excelling at them like you wouldn't believe. And if you're thinking, "Oh, you'll never beat the spam filter," well guess what? I can beat the spam filter. Beating the spam filter is something you learn how to do when you're desperately unemployed.

The second knock on Kagan--well, it's not really a knock, even; it's more like a tap or a fingering at the door of criticism--is that she might be a lesbian. Obviously, this is a major concern for queer-stompers and fag-draggers everywhere, as judiciary members of minority groups tend to support legislation that promotes that group. For example, Sonia Sotomayor has so far voted in favor of multiple suits that have expanded the influence of Latinos, while for years Justice Antonin Scalia has wielded his influence in reliably furthering the cause of balding egomaniacal douchebags everywhere.

And so here is my free, unsolicited, general (see what I did there?) advice to Elena Kagan for a clean path to the Supreme Court: prove your heterosexuality in the most lurid way possible. Think of the story of current Justice-cum-American-hero Clarence Thomas: there were concerns that he was a gay back in the early 90s, and do you remember what he did? He tried to pick up a woman that worked under him by sprinkling his pubic hair on a can of Coke. Kagan should do the same; and might I suggest, Solicitor General Kagan, that the can of Coke should be drank by Dick Cheney? Nothing would bring this too-fragmented country together like seeing Dick Cheney's reaction to swallowing some good old American immigrant lesbo-Jew vagi-curls.

Or maybe not. It's true that I did not major in political strategy, and that I may have a rather elementary grasp on contemporary politics, judicial history, and the meaning of the English idiom "good taste." I'm not sure if it's possible for Kagan to capture any Republican votes; perhaps the best Ms. Kagan can hope for is that Senators McCain and Kyl from Arizona don't ask for her papers upon hearing that her name is "Elena." On the other hand, her last name is Kagan, which rhymes with "Reagan," which, as we all know, America, the greatest country in the world. The tiebreaker is her middle name, which she does not have, and which, unfortunately for her, neither do terrorists. I think we're looking at a party line vote here.

In conclusion, I wish my fellow Princeton alumnus Elena Kagan the best of luck, and I'm sure that, once confirmed, she will be a positive, constructive influence on the Supreme Court, and that we will all be watching her carefully but with pride as she makes rulings on cases that have absolutely no effect on our daily lives whatsoever. Good luck, Ms. Kagan, and here's hoping that you can contract and release your way to the highest court in the land.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Open the Sesame: Authentic Thai Food, Not Authentic Thai Prices

Last night I ate Thai food in America not haphazardly and incorrectly cooked by myself.

I went to a restaurant called "Open the Sesame," which offered, written in Thai on the blackboard outside the storefront, "Thai food cooked by Thai people." It was located in a newish shopping center next to a Food Lion and something called The Muscle Makers Grill, which is a funny concept for a restaurant, since I didn't know PEDs could be grilled.

Speaking of funny names: Open the Sesame, which is so named not due to a typically Thai tenuous grasp on English but, on the contrary, intentionally, because the owner, who emigrated to the US at 19, thought it would stick in people's mind's better than simply "Open Sesame." My only suggestion: for authenticity's sake, I would have named it something of a more direct Babelfish misfire: "Open the Glutinous Bull Penis," for example. Also, "Open" should be inexplicably conjugated to the past tense.

So let's talk about the food: Opened the Glutinous Bull Penis offers Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. We didn't try anything from either of the two Asian superpowers, though I can report that there is a Sushi Bar, manned by a stern-looking Japanese man who the restauranteur may or may not have rescued from the Black Forests having not heard about the surrender.

The Thai food is delicious, though, especially if you don't like Thai food. Well, that's not fair, exactly: the Tom Ka Gai (Galangal Coconut Chicken Curry Soup (it is exactly what it sounds like)) is authentic and "cheap" at $5 for a cup.

From what I could tell, though, amongst the three entrees ordered, the specifically Thai soup is where authenticity ended. "Thai food cooked by a Thai person" should perhaps be replaced by the more accurate "Thai food as interpreted through the filter of American Chinese food cooked by a Thai person"; our entrees--Basil Beef (grapaow neua), Tofu and vegetable stir fry (pad paak ruam daohu), and chicken fried rice (khao pad gai) featured all the trademarks of the loosely Asian cuisine of North America--heavy, flavorful sauces, light spice, large portions, suspiciously Western vegetables (raise your hand if you remember eating eggplant and squash in Thailand?) Also, the entrees were served with something called "Thai red jasmine rice," also exactly what it sounds like, and also something I never saw any Thai people eat at breakfast, lunch, or dinner."Thai red jasmine rice" sounds more like a trendy side as recommended by the South Beach Diet than something that would actually be eaten on a Koh Chang-er's beach diet.

Which is not to say that the food wasn't delicious (a-roi--also advertised on the aforementioned Thaiblackboard); because it really, really was delicious, and this is coming not just from the guy who really, really loves Americanized Chinese food, who loves it so much that he spent precious print space in his Daily Princetonian opinion column on a paean to shopping mall food court Chinese kiosks, when he could have been writing about politics, or war, or political wars, or the politics of war, or military politics, or how unique Princeton is as a university (teaser: it's, like, totally unique, you guys), but it is also coming from my parents, who, like most of you, prefer food that does not sit out in metal trays in a germy people-filled shopping complex. The vegetables, from whatever culinary lineage, were fresh and delicious, the flavors were perpetually surprising (the grapaow had some gra-POW! 800th time I've made that joke), and I was full afterwards (which is good, because for the $11 I (and by I, I of course mean "my parents") spent on my basil beef, I could have gotten 15 plates of that same dish in front of Chiang Mai University, as pointed out by my student Nil on Facebook).

Well, that's enough dumping on Opened the Glutinous Bull Penis, and America in general. I had a lovely meal with two lovely people, and when I thanked the waitress with a classic "kharp khun khrab," it was the surprise of her life. She is from Lampang, which is near Chiang Mai, in relative terms. She talked to us for awhile and was as pleasant and friendly and self-effacing and smiley as you would expect a Thai person to be. America, in the three and a half years that she had lived here, had not taken away her particularly Siamese charm or attitude, which is enough proof for me to declare that This Land Can Still Be Thailand.

And thus the blog continues, opened for business as usual.

http://openthesesamenj.com/

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cruising Down the Freeway in the Hot, Hot Sun

Yes the title is a reference to the song that you think the title is referencing (but isn't that always the case?)

Today I took my little baby car out for a spin on the beautiful, well-paved streets of greatest New Jersey. And I realized, Hey, Thailand isn't the only place in the world with ridiculously named businesses (avid readers (this one goes out to my day-one fans!) may remember Q-Bone and the House of Male homo-spa (is that offensive?)).

Evidence A: an Italian restaurant advertising Mother's Day specials: "After all, Mom deserves the best." Even if this restaurant weren't located in a crumbling brick shanty next to a discount liquor store, I still think you would have a hard time finding many mothers who would define a $9.99 fettucine specials (with free dinner rolls!) as being the best.

But maybe I'm just elitist.

Evidence B: Not two miles from each other on Morris Ave. are two diners--The Mark Twain Diner and the Huck Finn Diner. Imagine my surprise when, after chuckling at the idea of a Mark Twain Diner, not three minutes later, on my right side, I passed a Huck Finn Diner. The Mark Twain Diner alone was silly, but when I saw the Huck Finn Diner, I parked the car, popped in the front door, and said, "Hey, I just wanted to tell you that I Sawyer author's restaurant down the road!"

And then the Turkish owner punched me in the face and told me never to come back.

Evidence C: At ShopRite, the 80 year old man walking in front of me in the vinegars section farted on me twice. He didn't seem too worried about it, so I didn't worry about it either.

I guess that wasn't really evidence of anything I was arguing for (Objection, Your Honor! Sustained, My Cousin Vinny!), but it is evidence that I am back in America, because as we all know, Thai people don't fart.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wisdom, American Style

I have a bit of American wisdom to impart, for those of you that also live in America, like I live in America.

Eating popcorn chicken is good. Popcorn chicken is delicious, easy to make, and filling.

Taking a bath is good. It is relaxing, it feels nice during and afterward, and it is fun to fart in the bath.

Despite the separate positives of these two activities, here is the wisdom: it is not good to eat popcorn chicken and then take a bath. It is not relaxing, and it does not feel nice either during or afterward (farting in the bath is still fun, though, and the Flatulence Frequency is increased exponentially (I would draw you a graph, though I don't know which visualization is most suitable (perhaps a bubble chart))).

Like I said, unless you like underwater stomachaches, or want to know what giving water birth feels like, I wouldn't eat too much popcorn chicken before you take  your next bath. I can't confirm this, but if you only eat a little bit of popcorn chicken before the bath, I think you will be okay. If you are eating popcorn chicken, though, and you get to a point where you can feel chicken grease surging out your skin pores, that is when you know it is time not to take a bath.

I would cross swimming off your list, too.