Thursday, July 9, 2009

Break out the sad tissues: "No Children" by The Mountain Goats

I was going to do a post about how I always seem to be mildly depressed when I come back from vacation. I spent a little more than a week in Vermont, generally indoors out of the rain and reading, working on The Downfall Dictionary, and watching TV, though there were a few trips elsewhere as well. But all things considered, I've come back from trips feeling much sadder; I'd probably just reiterate what I said in the St. Paul entry about how it's sad to unpack after a long trip. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. Plus there's an arts festival and bachelor's party this weekend, so one more day of work and I'm set.

But I'm still a little blue, so I thought I'd do another sad post of sorts, this time focusing on the song "No Children" by The Mountain Goats.

All told, it's almost funny. The singer basically seems to be telling everyone and everything to jog on, and the inflection of his voice makes it seem to be joking for much of the song. But the lyrics are pretty depressing, and the way the music is played seems to make it pretty clear that it's serious. What's it about? Well, that's for the people on to figure out. An unhappy relationship would seem to be the simplest explanation, and probably the right one.

I first heard this song on this episode of the Adult Swim show Moral Orel. The show, which followed a wholesome Christian boy named Orel and his well-meaning but disastrous attempts to interpret and implement the lessons he learns in church, was generally a hilarious take on Davey and Goliath which nonetheless had a pretty dark undertone related to his parents' unhappy marriage and father's alcoholism. These themes came to a head in an episode where Orel is forced to see his father for who he really is instead of a flawless role model. The song was used in one of the first episodes following that point, and generally highlighted the misery of the marriage. Plus the band's songs were used in a few other episodes, so I guess they specialize in folksy depression.

Well, that's enough of that. I'm going to go watch some of The Big Bang Theory and return to a state of levity.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Solutions to Everything: Government


As far as I can tell, everyone knows a government is needed to regulate various things and pay police officers and pave the roads and so on and so forth. And yet everyone hates governments of all shape and size for various reasons. From some of the shenanigans I've researched in my blog on United States political scandals, I think I can see why. But here are a few complaints I've heard regarding the various branches:
  • The federal government: being overpaid; invading or not invading various countries; weighing down every single bill with hundreds of riders appropriating money to fund projects in various constituencies; castrating ministers; taking bribes; giving bribes; endlessly getting mired down in political partisanship; abandoning official duties to fly to Argentina for sex; and so on.
  • The state government: wasting time debating what the state sandwich should be; absconding with bags stuffed with treasury money; any measure of taxation; taking bribes; giving bribes; and so on.
  • Local government: graft; conflict of interest; land assessments; funding the fire department, for some reason; embezzlement; and so on.

Robot Government!

President Android Jackson and his Cabinet

The solution is obvious, isn't it? Fire all government officials and replace them with robots! That means a robot President, 435 robot congressman (plus 6 nonvoting robot delegates from U.S. territories and the District of Columbia), 100 robot senators, 50 robot governors, and countless lower level state legislators and mayors and boards of selectmen. I challenge you to find any constitution or set of bylaws anywhere that prevents a robot from taking office.

Of course, there will be concerns that the robot government manufacturers will be biased and program them to, say, support gay marriage or ban abortion. So we'd have to wait for the singularity to occur, at which point the robots would create other robots of superhuman design who can come to their own conclusions.


The great majority of complaints against the government, if not all of them, relate to human weaknesses like greed and lust. Unless robots turn out to be like Bender from Futurama, that's not something we'd have to worry about in a robot government. No robot politician would have any use for bribes or kickbacks, or indeed any money at all; that's a huge savings in salaries. Aside from that, robots would probably be better able to analyze budgets and economies and such, could not likely be accused of conflict of interest, and in general would not make as many errors (unless Microsoft designs them).

And, of course, you might have Summer Glau as your governor.

You thought Sarah Palin was hot? Fuck's sake, man, you're amateur...