Donut Puncher

20 January 2010

While food shopping in Pittsburgh’s Strip District last weekend I happened by a large crowd of freaky people raising a ruckus in front of a store on Smallman Street.  I asked one of them what all the commotion was about and was told that they were protesting a new hippie-themed bakery called “Peace, Love, and Little Donuts.”

Why?  It turns out that the store’s owner, Ron Razete, is a far-right wing nut who maintained a blog (now taken down) in which he called homosexuals an “immoral minority,” expressed his admiration for Joe McCarthy, and so forth.

Oops.

Mr. Razete is entitled to express his beliefs, and if he’d called his store “Ron’s Donuts” or “The God Hates Fags Olde-Tyme Sweet Shoppe,” nobody would have given a flying fuck.  Well, people might have been a bit upset about the second name, but at least Razete could not have been accused of misrepresenting himself.  Instead, he tried to con the very people he disdains as sinful and un-American into handing him their money.  Ron, did you really think you’d get away with this, or do you genuinely lack even the faintest idea of what the hippies stood for?

On a related note, why are Christians so hung up on homosexuality?  I’m no biblical scholar, but I’m fairly certain that the Bible in general and the New Testament in particular devote considerably more ink to charity and forgiveness than to homosexuality.  Despite this, it seems that many “Christians” devote far more time and energy to persecuting people for what they do in their bedrooms than to helping the poor.

Furthermore, I don’t hear Ron Razete and his ilk calling for adulterers to be stoned to death, even though this prescription, along with many others that any decent human being would find abhorrent, can be found in the same biblical passages that condemn homosexuality.  Presumably, these people quite correctly figure that certain aspects of biblical morality are too antiquated for our modern society.  Thus, they are holding biblical morality up to some higher ethical standard, which raises the obvious question: why not just employ this higher standard exclusively and dismiss the Bible as a moral authority?  Perhaps society can find a way to carry on without guidance from an inconsistent, inaccurate, derivative and poorly translated scroll.

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Q: What’s better than winning the Superbowl as a Steeler?

4 February 2009

A: Not living in Pittsburgh.   Zing! That’s right, faithful readers: it’s been a long time coming, but the much anticipated and long overdue “Pittsburgh post” has finally arrived.  Before I tear this city a new goatse-sized asshole, however, I will acknowledge some of its virtues.  First and foremost, the cost of living is very low.  I couldn’t even rent a broom closet in Manhattan for what I pay for my three bedroom here.  Of course, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, but Pittsburgh certainly is a good place to be a poor graduate student.  Second, for a city its size, Pittsburgh has a fairly vibrant cultural scene.  It has a symphony, an opera, and several art museums, as well as a number of attractions that can be enjoyed by heterosexuals.  Finally, it must be said that there are many worse places to live, such as Beirut, the Sudan, and Detroit.

But people don’t read Moral Hazard for some bullshit hippie love fest; in fact, they don’t read it at all. But if they did, it would be for bristling, over-the-top negativity, which I shall now deliver.  Without further ado, I present four reasons Pittsburgh should be swallowed up into the fiery bowls of hell.

Weather

Far and away the worst thing about Pittsburgh is the weather, which is, as Mike so eloquently put it, dog shit. To put it another way, the weather alone is sufficient reason to qualify Pittsburgh as a bona fide shithole.  Winter starts in mid-November and extends into April (yes, I know it technically starts in December and ends in March, go fuck yourself).  These months are bitter cold, but this is typical north of the Mason-Dixon line; what makes Pittsburgh winters particularly abominable is the constant precipitation.  It’s usually snow, which, though it does fuck up the roads, at least leaves you dry.  Often, however, it rains – even when the temperature is well below freezing, which leads me to believe that Pittsburgh is under some sort of gypsy curse.  In such cases you wind up soaked and shivering, and the rain mixes with the snow on the ground to form a disgusting slush that makes walking an utterly miserable ordeal.

Summer is not quite as bad as winter, but it’s no picnic either.  From late June through early September it’s as hot and moist as Satan’s nutsack.  The humidity is what really kills; you can’t so much as walk to your car without needing a change of shirt.  On top of that, there’s the frequent rain and electrical storms.

Thus, there are only two genuinely pleasant months in Pittsburgh (May and October), and even then the sky tends to be overcast.  Weather is a major component of quality of life, and Pittsburgh’s is so bad that one might be happier on death row in San Quentin.

The Case Law

Pittsburgh’s alcohol laws defy comprehension.  In a shrewd move to discourage entrepreneurship, the city makes liquor licenses expensive and difficult to obtain.  Many restaurants are therefore B.Y.O.B.; I actually like this, since it’s a lot cheaper, but it sure does suck for the business owner.  Throughout Pennsylvania, liquor and wine are only sold at state-run stores, often at high prices.  This is annoying, but I’m more of a beer drinker, and the beer situation is absolutely infuriating.  If you want to buy beer at a reasonable price, you must go to a “beer distributor” and buy a case.  For some bizarre reason I can’t even fathom, you can’t buy single bottles or six-packs.  Actually, it is possible to buy a six-pack from a bar or pizza parlor if you’re willing to pay $11 for a six of Yuengling.  I’ve resorted to this a few times, and in the process discovered yet another absurd rule: you can’t buy more than two six-packs at a time.  The clerk told me to buy two, leave, then come right back in and buy the third.  What.  The.  Fuck.

While I disagree with prohibiting supermarkets from selling alcohol, at least there’s a reason for such a policy: to protect small businesses who sell booze.  But I have yet to hear a single legitimate reason for the case law.  The only explanation I’ve been offered is that it protects bars and other purveyors of overpriced six-packs, but since when is it the role of legislation to create an artificially restricted and inflated market?

The Pittsburgh Accent

Before I came to Pittsburgh, I wasn’t even aware that there was a Pittsburgh accent.  Indeed there is, and it’s the only accent that makes southerners sound sophisticated by comparison.  Here’s a taste:

This is a parody, but people really do talk like that here.   In case you were wondering, “yinz” is a contraction of “you ones,” and serves as the second person plural.   “N’at” is a contraction of “and that,” and means absolutely nothing; yinzers just stick it at the end of sentences for no apparent reason.  It’s hard to believe that the English language could be so thoroughly mangled, but there you have it.

The Pirates

The Steelers are a model sports franchise; congratulations to them on their sixth Superbowl championship.  The Penguins are also a fine team who made it to the Stanley Cup finals just last year.  These successes, however, are canceled out by the embarrassment that is the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Guess when the Pirates last had a winning record.

1992.  Nineteen-ninety motherfucking two.  That’s 16 straight losing seasons, including 8 last-place finishes, and no signs that this streak is going to end anytime soon.   But since poor finishes lead to high draft picks, the Pirates’ minor league teams should be flourishing, right?  Wrong; incompetent management has squandered these draft picks time and again and left the farm system barren.

It’s really a shame the Pirates are such a disgrace, since they play in one of the nicest parks in all of baseball.  PNC Park opened just seven years ago, but now only draws more than 10,000 fans when the Cubs are in town.  What a fucking joke.


Cold is now an objective thing

27 January 2009

I haven’t written in a while, so I’m going to start off this post with a PSA.

To the readers of Moral Hazard,

It’s important that you read to the end of the post and see who the post is by.  It’s listed at the end of each and every post, and should tell you whether the reprehensible opinions expressed within are authored by Dan, Patricia, or myself.  This is important!  It was brought to my attention the other day that people thought I (Mike) wrote all of the posts on this site.  Furthermore, some people thought I was actually in possession of the picture of Dan with chocolate all over his partially-covered form.

I want to make it explicitly clear that I am not in possession of the photograph, and quite honestly, it bothers me that it even exists.  I could take it off of this website but really, I know a copy of the bits exist out there somewhere.  Failing that, they existed at some point in time.  Really there’s no way to win here.  The crime against nature has been perpetrated and will continue for all of time.

Sincerely yours,

Mike.

Now, on to the meat of my post.  I talk a lot of shit about the south, but let’s be honest: I kind of like it there.  Really the south has no more problems than any other part of the country.  Sure, it has backwards racists but let’s not lie: so does the north.  At least the south has the distinct advantage of being warm, scenic, and pleasant.  In other words: I don’t feel like killing myself every single day of the winter, and North Carolina winters are beautiful compared to Pittsburgh.

Dog shit.

Dog shit.

It really bothers me when spoiled babies whine about “cold weather” when it’s in the 60’s, especially when I’m freezing my ass off in a frozen tundra.  I also realize that “cold” is a subjective notion; if you’re used to warm days all the time, then even a moderately unpleasant day is gonna make baby weal upset.

To prevent further misunderstandings, I’ve developed an “objective cold chart.”  It’s based around the following metric: freezing weather sucks, regardless of how used you are to it.  I can walk around in 20 degree weather without gloves because I’m used to it and I’m not a chump — but that doesn’t mean it’s not cold.  Referal to this chart is really simple; if you find yourself whining about the temperature, consult the chart.  The chart will tell you what you are, given the temperature.

Sub-zero: justified.

Sub-freezing: justified.  It’s worse closer to 0, obviously.  Around 32 isn’t so bad, and anything about 20 isn’t so bad IN MY OPINION, but I’m willing to concede that anything below freezing is terrible.

32-40:  Buck up and zip up your coat.  It’s chilly but it’s not that bad.

40-50: Poor baby.  This is sheer luxury in the winter.  If you find yourself whining about temperature in the 40’s you need a reality check.

50-60: Whiny baby.  If you’re whining about temperature in the 50’s, you need the taste slapped out of your mouth.

60 and up:  You deserve death.  Some real Al-Qaeda, Viet-Cong stuff too.


The Pootie Alliance

13 November 2008

Sociology and anthropology are interesting fields — studying and explaining human behavior individually, in groups, and culturally is a huge task with rewarding results.  However, I think these fields are lacking in certain keys ways: primarily, they give humans too much credit by viewing them as beings with agency and dignity.  I’d like to see a field of study that objectified human beings to the point of studying us as the animals we are.

Observe these sub-par specimens gather at their traditional mating grounds.  Fascinating!

Observe these sub-par specimens gather at their traditional mating grounds. Fascinating!

The number of attractive women I’ve seen on CMU campus nearly doubled tonight because I encountered a “pootie alliance.”  A bit of context first: Carnegie Mellon is a wasteland when it comes to attractiveness.  Attractive people here are few and far between, to the point that I’ve actually counted the number of women I find attractive on campus since last Fall.  I hadn’t broken double digits until tonight.

Why tonight, you ask?  Because I ran across an interesting social (and group biological) phenomenon tonight: a pootie alliance.  An entire group of good looking girls — at least five or six, complete with one homely chick to make them look better by comparison.  It’s so formulaic and predictable that it’s barely believable; I’m willing to wager the majority of you have observed a pootie alliance in the past month.

 

With our powers combined, we can convince men to objectify us even further

With our powers combined, we can convince men to objectify us even more

It’s amazing that fully grown human beings with (arguably) fully functional brains could be so under the sway of unseen and systematic psychological and biological influences.  It’s no coincidence at all that attractive women flock together like this — it’s a clear-cut mating strategy.  The amazing thing, however, is that they are completely unaware that they are part of a pootie alliance in the first place.  Think about how remarkable that is.  

When most people assemble into a group of allies aimed at a specific purpose, they’re aware of the arrangement in some way.  But the biological forces at sway in the group strategy of the pootie alliance is more subtle, playing themselves out in each member completely undetected.  The group behavior is so specific and finely tuned that they even include an ugly chick so that they all look better by comparison!  Two ugly chicks would be too much — they simply need a single reference point to further bolster their appeal.

I take the following to characterize the rationale:  What’s better than a hot chick?  Many hot chicks!  What makes many hot chicks look even better?  An ugly chick!

Again, I must stress:  I don’t actually believe the members of the alliance hold a congress or something like that to decide that they need an ugly chick around.  Rather, the behavior dynamic converges to these highly regularized, systematic results.

Surprisingly, the simplest of creatures can exhibit highly complex group strategies

Surprisingly, the simplest of creatures can exhibit highly sophisticated group strategies

In classifying the social characteristics of higher primates, we need to classify the social characteristics of human beings as animals.  Maybe I could write the foundational paper in this field.


If you’re happy and you know it: go fuck yourself.

12 November 2008

“Why so dour, Mike?”  “Why not look on the bright side of things?”  “Why not count the positive?”  “What could you possibly have to complain about, you spoiled little shit?”

If any of these questions came to mind when you read the title of this post, then stuff it.  This post is about a very simple and troubling problem I’ve had throughout my life — a neverending feeling that I’m missing out on the greatest party ever.  The only catch is that the party, while probably a lot more fun than the drab things I get into, is full of a bunch of undesirables.

It’s a pretty simple feeling, but hard to properly characterize.  It’s as if there was this beautiful garden with unicorns and fairies and O.G. Kush that exists somewhere, where everybody’s happy.  The only catch is that this garden’s name is “stupidity.”

Go ahead and frolick you halfwitted prick

Go ahead and frolick you halfwitted prick

Quite a few of you who read this will think I’m snobbish, elitist, pretentious, a bit too full of myself, an asshole, petty, bitter, and envious.  Congrats on your amazing perceptive abilities.

I know you think youre clever, but keep the comments to yourselves.

I know you think you're clever, but keep the comments to yourselves.

Surely there are folks out there that feel the same way I do — people who have an overwhelming inability to be satisfied by anything.  The sad reality is, many people just aren’t wired to be happy and dumb all of the time.  In fact, I’m willing to wager that happiness and dumbness occupy the same emotional space.  

You might contend that all I need is a bit of wine, women, song, and sunshine.  I think you may be right… perhaps if I could get just a few of these things, I’d be happy again…

Oh wait.

I live here:

ass.

And now for your Pittsburgh 5-day forecast: ass.

Land of shitty weather, ugly women, utterly inaccessible alcohol (you have to go to an “alcohol distributor” here where they rip you off like you’re 18), and grossly intolerable local music.

Ah well.  One day, my friends.  One day.


Pittsburgh Weather Report

29 October 2008

It’s been snowing.  All day.  In October.

Fuck this place in the ass with a tree trunk.