There have been times in the thirteen-year-history of this feature when it was not used for, well, venting: all manner of stuff has shown up here from time to time. For this particular installment, though, I'd like to do some actual complaining about a few things that tend to rub me the wrong way. Should the reader be perturbed, well, there will be a new one along before too awfully long.

For some reason, the US Postal Service has become a favorite reference point for those who really, truly hate the idea of the so-called "public option" in health care, which the Senate Finance Committee probably didn't entirely kill off earlier this week. The comparisons seem apt: the Postal Service runs a seemingly-perennial deficit, as would any government-operated health plan, and sooner or later that plan would be overrun with drones masquerading as serious union members. But there's one thing that messes up the comparison: while you'll look long and hard to find any Constitutional justification for any Federal health care, even sacrosanct Medicare, Congress is specifically empowered — mandated, even — to deliver the mail. And if the service sometimes isn't everything it could be, there's a lot to be said for the ability to deliver said mail (one ounce or less) to any place from 00501 (IRS office, Holtsville, New York) to 99929 (Wrangell, Alaska) for less than half a buck.

A proper venting at this level always includes a computer-related item, and this one has been annoying me for more than a decade, though I have to accept at least some of the blame for using a Microsoft email client in the first place. That said, though, said client has been instructed to classify certain items as junk. Under the old Outlook Express message rules, those items were dispatched to Deleted Items; the newer Windows Live Mail drops them in a junk folder under the individual email account. There is no good reason why these items, clearly marked for disposal, should generate a New Mail Notification, yet somehow they always do. Someone in Redmond needs to rethink this.

This state levies a $5.56 per gallon tax on booze. (Table wines are taxed at a lower rate.) This sounds like a lot, but when you get down to little 50-ml bottles, the tax is well-nigh infinitesimal. And that's a shame, because (1) those little bottles are the vessel of choice of people who wish to drink without other people seeing them drink, especially on the street, (2) and they're also the vessel of choice of people who drink in the back lot of the apartments around the corner, who, rather than hunt down an actual waste-disposal unit on the premises, will simply lob the bottle in one of several directions, many of which will result in the bottle landing on my side of the fence. Tax those sumbitches at five bucks and change, and people will change their ways forthwith. "Fifthwith, even," as Snagglepuss might have said.

Finally, I am weary of people who think that heinously bad behavior can somehow be offset by good behavior. We saw this when Ted Kennedy eased out of this life, entirely too easefully to suit some of us, and some wacko at HuffPo tried to argue with a straight face that Mary Jo Kopechne might actually have endorsed some of the things he did that didn't actually involve leaving her to drown. We're seeing this same pattern with the impending return of Roman Polanski. I expect any moment now to see a memoir that claims that Jeffrey Dahmer made an absolutely marvelous milkshake. Then again, who writes their own memoirs anymore?

The Vent

#647
  1 October 2009

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