H'rumphs

Nothing to See Here...

Having successfully survived a mid-life crisis -- mainly by living past mid-life -- I felt it was finally time to sell my Harley, the vehicle I procured a few years back to counter the feelings of insecurity that come with aging. (Actually, my insecurities began a few years before mid-life, specifically when Bonnie Hartley was mean to me in second grade. But my therapist feels strongly that I should just let it go and stop sticking my tongue out at random 7-year-olds.)

Fortunately, in the Internet age there are many ways to sell a motorcycle. I first placed an ad on Craigslist, but then I got calls from people wanting to date my Harley. So I decided to try eBay, a popular auction site famous for its ease of use among computer engineers with advanced degrees. For the rest of us, however, there is a high learning curve that includes accidentally purchasing things you don't want, such as 12 composting toilets that I somehow placed a bid on. Thankfully, I was outbid -- probably by some other first-time user shopping for a DVD player -- and didn't have to pay for my transgressions.

My motorcycle had been on eBay for a week, and the only response I got was from a guy who asked if his $6 bid included shipping. (I distracted him with a link to composting toilets, then pulled my ad before I got into more trouble.)

Finally a friend of a friend bought the bike, and I agreed to ride it out to his house for the price of $3,000 and a lift to the nearest subway station. As it turned out, it was the farthest stop on the entire D.C. Metro line, so I had to plan my strategy for riding an hour on public transportation with $3,000 cash in my pocket. With the confidence that comes from being a thousandaire, I accepted the challenge.

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Sojourners Magazine December 2010
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Cover Your Ears, Thomas Jefferson...

After more than 200 years of constitutional democracy, it may be time to try something completely different. I mention this only because recent events indicate that Congress, and the easily distracted people it represents, can't get anything done.

And what better place than in this, our November election issue (as opposed to our September-October "Shopping for School" issue or the upcoming December "Shopping for Jesus" issue). In a couple weeks, Americans will gather at the polls and once again prove ourselves unworthy of the wisdom of our founders, who specifically put the words "try not to be stupid" in our Constitution.

In fairness, kudos to the Obama administration for passing health care and financial reform. But frankly the complexity of each reminds me of my dad trying to teach golf to his adolescent son: "Keep your head down, shoulders back, knees slightly bent, and your right wrist straight. Okay, now swing. Why did you miss the ball, son?" My dad meant well, as did the Obama administration, but I was left with the same feeling afterward: Namely, I wonder if that cute girl in the foursome ahead of us is going to be at the pool later.

See, it's that kind of distractibility that makes Americans virtually ungovernable. We scream for a better country, but then we see a butterfly, reach for it, and as the saying goes, on the other side of the world an angel gets her wings, or something. (I was always a little unclear on the science of the Butterfly Effect.)

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Sojourners Magazine November 2010
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Election Year Blues.

It has come to our attention that Americans are confused by what they’re hearing from their leaders this election year. This is understandable. Because they’re all lying.

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2010
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Who You Calling 'Alien'?!

As the 2010 mid-term election nears, Americans are preparing to choose the leaders who will take us into the future, or, in the case of “Ayn” Rand Paul, into the past. Paul is the candidate who doubts the severity of the massive Gulf oil spill because it hasn’t yet reached the shores of Kentucky. Paul also believes federal inspectors should spend less time on oil rigs and more time monitoring Walgreens, a private company that apparently is allowing people of color to sit at its lunch counters.

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Sojourners Magazine August 2010
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First Among Equals

I never look forward to my trips to Dallas, a red-state city short on political tolerance but long on congenial in-laws, who welcome me to their comfortable little patch of sagebrush while trying to distract me from the latest Lone Star lunacy.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2010
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This is Frank Luntz. No it's Not.

Frank Luntz sees things differently than the rest of us. As the Talking Points King for the Right, truth is always inconvenient for Frank, which is why he simply ignores it and manufactures his own version. Luntz is the strategist who puts words into the mouths of conservatives on Capitol Hill. (Although, in his defense, there might be other things in the mouth of perennially unsmiling Sen. Mitch McConnell [R-Grumpyland], who appears to be sucking on lemons. No problem. Luntz will turn them into lemonade.)

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Sojourners Magazine June 2010
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Inventor. Handyman. Genius.

As summer approaches, I look forward to the day, sometime in late July, when all the snow will finally be gone from Washington, D.C. But right now I’m writing from the confines of my home, trapped under three feet of snow and occupying my time by worrying about the porch roof collapsing.

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Sojourners Magazine May 2010
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Supreme Court Earns Free Air Miles

The recent Supreme Court decision expanding corporate “personhood” in elections has opened up a new world of possibility, and not just that the Roberts majority can ride in Halliburton’s Gulfstream anytime it wants. It also changes who I could have dated in high school. Had I known that personhood would one day be constitutionally attributed to businesses, I might not have been so disappointed when the head cheerleader reluctantly declined to be my prom date.

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Sojourners Magazine April 2010
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An Urgent Visit to the White House

It was a very special day, and I chose my necktie accordingly, a selection made easier by the fact that I only have two. One is covered with a photograph of brightly-colored fruit, a design that expressed my bold fashion sense during the roughly five minutes that photographic ties were in style. But these are more somber times than the summer of 1981, so I instead chose the beige tie with small blue medallions, a full decade newer, and the perfect understatement for meeting the president of the United States.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2010
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Thar It Blows...

I’ve been surfing the Internet, looking for ways to escape the coming apocalypse that ancient Mayans, using science available at the time, predicted for two years from now. This prediction was based on their assumption that the Mayan civilization would have run its course by 2012, instead of the weekend after they made the prediction, some 1,100 years ago. This really caught them by surprise. (Mayan scientist: “I figured that since we were the dominant Mesoamerican civilization we would be around for centuries, or at least until we could watch ourselves on the History Channel. On the other hand, we also thought we were descended from jaguars, which, on reflection, should have raised questions about our scholarship.”)

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Sojourners Magazine February 2010
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