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May 19, 2015

Overnight Open Thread (5-19-2015) – Under-Handicapped and Dangerous Edition

Well since Ace is going to slack off on a Tuesday, I figure I could do the same. So here's a short story to entertain you.

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron's fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel's cheeks, but she'd forgotten for the moment what they were about.

On the television screen were ballerinas.

A buzzer sounded in George's head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.

"That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did," said Hazel.

"Huh" said George.

"That dance-it was nice," said Hazel.

"Yup," said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren't really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn't be handicapped. But he didn't get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.

George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.

Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself, she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.

"Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer," said George.

"I'd think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds," said Hazel a little envious. "All the things they think up."

"Um," said George.

"Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?" said Hazel. Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers. "If I was Diana Moon Glampers," said Hazel, "I'd have chimes on Sunday-just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion."

"I could think, if it was just chimes," said George.

"Well-maybe make 'em real loud," said Hazel. "I think I'd make a good Handicapper General."

"Good as anybody else," said George.

"Who knows better than I do what normal is?" said Hazel.

"Right," said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.

"Boy!" said Hazel, "that was a doozy, wasn't it?"

It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.

"All of a sudden you look so tired," said Hazel. "Why don't you stretch out on the sofa, so's you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch." She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George's neck. "Go on and rest the bag for a little while," she said. "I don't care if you're not equal to me for a while."

George weighed the bag with his hands. "I don't mind it," he said. "I don't notice it any more. It's just a part of me."

"You been so tired lately-kind of wore out," said Hazel. "If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few."

"Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out," said George. "I don't call that a bargain."

"If you could just take a few out when you came home from work," said Hazel. "I mean-you don't compete with anybody around here. You just sit around."

"If I tried to get away with it," said George, "then other people'd get away with it-and pretty soon we'd be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn't like that, would you?"

"I'd hate it," said Hazel.

"There you are," said George. The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?"

If Hazel hadn't been able to come up with an answer to this question, George couldn't have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.

"Reckon it'd fall all apart," said Hazel.

"What would?" said George blankly.

"Society," said Hazel uncertainly. "Wasn't that what you just said?

"Who knows?" said George.

The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn't clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, "Ladies and Gentlemen."

He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

"That's all right-" Hazel said of the announcer, "he tried. That's the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard."

"Ladies and Gentlemen," said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred pound men.

And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. "Excuse me-" she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.

"Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen," she said in a grackle squawk, "has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous."

Continued below.


A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen-upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.

The rest of Harrison's appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.

Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.

And to offset his good looks, the H-G men required that he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random.

"If you see this boy," said the ballerina, "do not - I repeat, do not - try to reason with him."

There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.

Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake.

George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have - for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune. "My God-" said George, "that must be Harrison!"

The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an automobile collision in his head.

When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.

Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood - in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.

"I am the Emperor!" cried Harrison. "Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!" He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

"Even as I stand here" he bellowed, "crippled, hobbled, sickened - I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!"

Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.

Harrison's scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.

Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.

He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.

"I shall now select my Empress!" he said, looking down on the cowering people. "Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!"

A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.

Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask.

She was blindingly beautiful.

"Now-" said Harrison, taking her hand, "shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance? Music!" he commanded.

The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too. "Play your best," he told them, "and I'll make you barons and dukes and earls."

The music began. It was normal at first-cheap, silly, false. But Harrison snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.

The music began again and was much improved.

Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while-listened gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.

They shifted their weights to their toes.

Harrison placed his big hands on the girls tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers.

And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well.

They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

They leaped like deer on the moon.

The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it.

It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling. They kissed it.

And then, neutraling gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time.

It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.

Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.

It was then that the Bergerons' television tube burned out.

Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George. But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of beer.

George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. "You been crying" he said to Hazel.

"Yup," she said.

"What about?" he said.

"I forget," she said. "Something real sad on television."

"What was it?" he said.

"It's all kind of mixed up in my mind," said Hazel.

"Forget sad things," said George.

"I always do," said Hazel.

"That's my girl," said George. He winced. There was the sound of a rivetting gun in his head.

"Gee - I could tell that one was a doozy," said Hazel.

"You can say that again," said George.

"Gee-" said Hazel, "I could tell that one was a doozy."

Jonathon Last's Modest Proposal for the GOP Primary Debates

In short: relegation.

Feds Order Amtrak To Turn On System That Would've Prevented Crash

Last Tuesday evening, northbound Amtrak Northeast Regional train No. 188 derailed on a curve in Philadelphia, killing eight passengers. The train was traveling in excess of 100 mph, while the curve had a passenger-train speed limit of 50 mph. In response, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is issuing formal emergency orders that will require Amtrak to make sure automatic train control systems work Northbound through Philadelphia at and near the site of the derailment. The FRA is also requiring that Amtrak assess the risk of all curves along the NEC and increase the amount and frequency of speed limit signs along the railroad. FRA's emergency order is newsworthy because Amtrak's existing signal system could have been configured to prevent a train from exceeding speed limits, according to the Wall Street Journal.

No word on how evil Republican non-spending increase-cuts somehow managed to prevent them from enabling the safety system in both direction.

Did 13 Girls Frame a Fellow Student for Rape 'To Teach Him a Lesson?

Lawyers for a 19-year-old accused of sexually assaulting several girls at his former school have claimed the alleged victims lied about the accusations and decided to "teach him a lesson" after being inspired by a Hollywood movie.

Tyler Kost appeared in court on Monday after being arrested last year when he was accused of a series of sexual crimes against 13 girls aged between 13 and 17. The Associated Press said that most of the girls were former classmates at his school in Arizona.

But lawyers filed documents with the court that included a group Facebook chat where three of the accusers and three witnesses made plans to target Mr Kost and referred to the movie John Tucker Must Die, in which ex-girlfriends take revenge on a former boyfriend. The exchange happened weeks before the women accused Mr Kost of sexual assault.

Well it's possible that he is in fact guilty of the charges but then there also seems to be actual evidence that three of the girls conspired to accuse him of sexual crimes. Evidence that the prosecution seems very uninterested in. Meanwhile Kost is still in jail after a year.

Also: My son's life was ripped apart by a woman who falsely cried 'rape'... twice

Also: Lawsuit spells out 'nightmare' for California man accused of seducing a minor online without evidence

And by without evidence he means nothing as in zippo, nada, and bupkis. After her initial accusations were not backed up by teachers the girl stopped cooperating with police and prosecutors were not able to find any evidence that the man had ever communicated with her online.

Yet the prosecutors office under Democrat Mike Feuer chose to charge Scott Hounsell anyway, dragged their feet for over a year before finally dropping the charges due to lack of evidence, and essentially ruined his professional life. The fact that Hounsell was executive director of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County at the time was probably just a coincidence.

How a Single Activist Food Blogger Has Limited What You Get to Eat

One particular activist, nicknamed "Food Babe," has taken away some of America's best foods. Because of her, the composition of Subway's bread is altered, and now the Kraft blue-box Mac and Cheese recipe is, as well.

What is perhaps the most infuriating aspect of the Food Babe's activism is the fact that her crusades, which she claims are for our collective good, have no basis in science. She has written nonsensical polemics against microwaves (just for them to disappear down the memory hole). To say she is the Dr. Oz of the food world is being generous-he at least has a degree in medicine. But just as Oz has come under fire for being a snake-oil salesman in a lab coat, so too has the Food Babe, aka Vani Hari.

..."Hari's superhero origin story is that she came down with appendicitis and didn't accept the explanation that appendicitis just happens sometimes. So she quit her job as a consultant, attended Google University and transformed herself into an uncredentialed expert in everything she admittedly can't pronounce."

But she still knows what's best for you.

mac51b5IJFMnTL._SL500_SS500_

Can You Be Sued For Requiring a Man to Use the Men's Bathrooms?

Why yes, yes you can.

Obama's EEOC has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964-which prohibits discrimination "based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin"-was violated by the Army when it refused to allow a transgender, male-to-female, civilian employee to use the women's restroom.

The individual met with Army supervisors and discussed her transition from male-to-female, agreeing to a written plan that would allow him/her to use a single-user restroom rather than the general women's restroom, at least until the individual had his external male genitalia removed. When he/she found the single-user restroom closed for repairs, he/she decided to use the women's restroom, triggering understandable discomfort by other women in the office.  He/she then filed a civil rights claim with the EEOC, claiming he/she was being harassed "based on sex" due to a "hostile working environment."

All those crazy fears from the 70s now coming true:

I remember when, as a kid, my mom used to tell me that she didn't support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment because she believed it would result in the elimination of separate men's and women's restrooms.  I thought that sounded scary back then, and it still does.  But hey- no need for a constitutional amendment!-we can just pack the EEOC (and federal courts) with progressives and accomplish the same thing.

What if Islam's 'Reformation' Is Already Here - and It's Called 'ISIS'?

The Squirrels and Birds Are Working Together

Dr. Greene, working with a student, has also found that "squirrels understand 'bird-ese,' and birds understand 'squirrel-ese.' " When red squirrels hear a call announcing a dangerous raptor in the air, or they see such a raptor, they will give calls that are acoustically "almost identical" to the birds, Dr. Greene said. (Researchers have found that eastern chipmunks are attuned to mobbing calls by the eastern tufted titmouse, a cousin of the chickadee.)

No telling how far up this conspiracy goes. What if Fido and Fluffy are just engaging in some kabuki animal theater too?

squirrelbird234

Hipsters Engage in Brutal Fight After Young One Tried to Enter Older Bull's Territory

And you have got to check out the YouTube video of the whole thing! Oh wait never mind it was just some hipsters hippos fighting.

No, Your Beard Is Not Full of Poop

So what about the study on those poopy beards? There wasn't a real study, just a TV news station swabbing a few beards and sending the samples off for testing. (Revealing germs in allegedly surprising places is a time-honored pastime of TV news shows.) Beards are, however, fairly clean. We know this from actual scientific research, like this study published last year in the Journal of Hospital Infection, which found that bearded hospital workers don't carry more bacteria on their faces than clean-shaven ones. (In fact, they were less likely to carry certain potentially disease-causing bacteria.)

And we all know that TV stations are famous for their rigorous scientific standards and dedication to the absolute accuracy of self-performed study results when it comes to pseudo-scientific scare-the-moms stories. Cui bono? Big Razor that's who.

gavind3e907c06647259b7d2100e55bc68517

Legendary Shoe Blogger Reveals Secret Identity

manoloconsolation

The Yahoo group is for closers only.

Teh Tweet!

Tonight's post brought to you by it's a delicacy on Endor:

DuxshwW

Notice: Posted in spite of the efforts of AceCorp LLC. Don't worry, Ace probably wouldn't eat you until he was really hungry. But you should also politely but firmly decline his suggestions of an intimate tenderizer soak for two. Please remain stationary until the ride has come to a full and complete stop. Thank you and come again!

digg this
posted by Maetenloch at 10:52 PM

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