Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Once Again, Thank God I Don't Have Kids.

Playing in the background: The air conditioner. It's ridiculously hot here.

[Warning: Graphic content. No, really.]

What with all the celebrity deaths and gubernatorial foolings-around, I somehow totally missed the Supreme Court ruling that school officials, by and large, can't be going around yanking the clothes off of thirteen-year-old girls and peering into their underwear.

Maybe I missed it because it was so obvious. In an environment where even Little League coaches have to undergo background checks to make sure they're not sex offenders, it seems a little silly that anybody would think hauling an underage girl out of class and making her disrobe in the principal's office (and, according to reports, "shaking out her bra and pulling her underwear forward to expose her pelvic area") was a great idea. The school officials claimed they were looking for "contraband," which in this case was a pain reliever that anybody of any age (yes, even thirteen) can buy at the corner drug store. Under this school district's "no tolerance" policy, though, the school felt it was justified in searching the student because it had "reasonable suspicion" (translated as, "Susie says you have drugs") that the student was packing the stuff.

The school officials behaved with unbelievable stupidity in this matter. There are plenty of options for dealing with suspected contraband besides stripping a thirteen-year-old girl in front of adult school officials. If they had reason to believe the teen had illegal drugs (and frankly, "Susie says you have drugs" doesn't seem like a reason to me) they could have called the police. They could have asked a parent to come down to the school and let the parent perform the search (in private). They could have simply asked her to leave campus for the day and not allowed her back until a parental discussion had taken place. The school nurse and the secretary were lucky they weren't charged with sexual assault. When I lived in California, a principal was fired for checking girls at the door of a high school dance to make sure they had on underwear. I forget what the rationale was now, but honestly, what would you say if your underage daughter came home and said, "Principal Barnes made me lift my skirt so she could look at my ass"? I would at least think Principal Barnes might have a screw loose. If I were the hysterical helicopter type, I would wonder if Principal Barnes might be one of those evil predatory lesbians, so popular in porno films yet so nonexistent everywhere else on the planet, who have a thing for thirteen-year-old girls.

Everybody but Justice Thomas agreed with this statement:

The exact label for this final step in the intrusion is not important, though strip search is a fair way to speak of it. [The secretary and nurse] directed Savana to remove her clothes down to her underwear, and then "pull out" her bra and the elastic band on her underpants. Although [they] stated that they did not see anything when Savana followed their instructions, we would not define strip search and its Fourth Amendment consequences in a way that would guarantee litigation about who was looking and how much was seen.The very fact of Savana’s pulling her underwear away from her body in the presence of the two officials who were able to see her necessarily exposed her breasts and pelvic area to some degree, and both subjective and reasonable societal expectations of personal privacy support the treatment of such a search as categorically distinct, requiring distinct elements of justification on the part of school authorities for going beyond a search of outer clothing and belongings.

Justice Thomas, on the other hand -- I swear, this guy is going to become the Jesse Helms of the Supremes -- stated that

---(t)he reasonable suspicion that Redding possessed the pills for distribution purposes did not dissipate simply because the search of her backpack turned up nothing. It was eminently reasonable to conclude that the backpack was empty because Redding was secreting the pills in a place she thought no one would look. See Ross, supra, at 820 ("Contraband goods rarely are strewn" about in plain view; "by their very nature such goods must be withheld from public view"). Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments...

Pardon me while I get pornographic, but I guess under this logic it would also follow that they could have insisted that the student remove her underwear, bend way way over, grab a butt cheek with each hand, spread them wide and jump up and down so officials could be sure she didn't have a bottle of Advil tucked into her anus or vagina. Heck, they were probably justified in grabbing a glove and going prospecting. After all, she wouldn't be the first person to use bodily orifices to smuggle contraband, and what's a little sexual assault when we're talking about student safety?

When I was in high school, I was accused of pimping (!) by a "good friend" who didn't want to go on a band trip. She told her parents that I was setting up a meeting with her ex-boyfriend, of whom she claimed to be afraid, at the location of the band trip. The parents called the principal, the principal called my parents, and I, who had no idea what was going on, got hauled out of class to explain myself. Luckily, my dad has a longstanding battle with school officials of all stripes and raised holy old hell. Good thing they didn't think I had her ex-boyfriend tucked in my underwear or-- okay, I think this blogpost has gotten pornographic enough.

Honest to God, don't parents have enough to worry about without wondering if school officials are sexually abusing their kids? In between lessons on "stranger danger", do we now have to explain to our toddlers that "If Principal Barnes wants to look in your diaper to see if you have no-nos, you should tell me right away"? Cripes. If I'd been that girl's mother I'd have gone down to the school with a chain saw or something and, I dunno, carved a great big topiary phallus in one of the bushes next to the main entrance. God knew what She was doing when She made me sterile. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't Read This!

Playing in the background: Steve Roach and Patrick O'Hearn, "Desert Excursion" from Fever Dreams

Oops, too late, you already did. Okay, read this blogpost, but do me and everybody you know a big favor and don't read Governor Sanford's love letters.

In case you missed this one, Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, disappeared for a week last week. His staff thought he was variously hiking the Appalachian Trail, off writing something somewhere, or possibly just lost his cell phone. After various explanations failed to make any sense, he admitted he'd flown to Argentina to have an affair with "a dear friend." (Well, one would hope so. I mean, you're gonna swap bodily fluids with somebody, you ought to at least know each other's last name.)

I realize we've heard this story a few times before (Clinton, Spitzer, John Edwards, Gary Hart, Rev. Jimmy Bakker, etc. etc. and back in time all the way to Emperor Nero) but for some reason it never gets old. There's something about being at the height of fame, wealth and power that makes some (male) politicians decide to throw it all away and go chase skirts. I don't know why this is. David Isaak tells me that no man would go to all the trouble of becoming governor or president or mayor unless he wasn't sure, on some level, that it would make it easier for him to get laid. Not being male, though, I have no way to confirm this. I guess it makes as much sense as anything else.

This time around, though, the media's managed to get hold of some of Governor Sanford's love letters, or rather love emails. And yes, he did send them from his official address (all together now, HOW STUPID IS THIS GUY??!!) and therefore they are public record and so the press has every right to splatter them all over Times Square and everywhere else. But, honestly, I wish they wouldn't. I also wish people would not read them, which is a hopeless wish if I've ever had one.

Luckily, I have not sent very many mash emails in my time. Well, I might use the word "SMOOCHIE!!" quite frequently in my missives to Joan, but I don't rhapsodize about her lips or her eyes or, uh, anything else, either. I'm kind of shy that way. I'm also kind of positive that anything sent out into cyberspace exists for all eternity, and even if somebody doesn't see fit to read it and fire you or publish it on the front page of some newspaper, it will still be dug up by God's angels and read into your Permanent Record when you get to heaven (says the Buddhist). But even if I did, and it got connected to some crime or other and therefore became public record, I'd hope other people wouldn't actually want to read them. I mean, that's kind of the mental equivalent of watching somebody walk around his bathroom, doing karaoke in his underwear. Who wants to see that? Even my cat has the good grace to cover her eyes when I burst into Bess, You Is My Woman Now. Course, she may actually be covering her ears.

I read a couple of the snippets from the CNN article, which more than convinced me I didn't want to hear the rest of 'em. Anybody who sends his girlfriend something like, "How in the world this lightening strike snuck up on us I am still not quite sure" ain't exactly Shakespeare. But even if he were, I'd still gently encourage curious readers everywhere to just skip em, already. Just because somebody's walking around his bathroom singing karaoke in his underwear in front of a glass window doesn't mean you have to look. Be warned, though; if you do, you might see something that will haunt your nightmares forever. Like a hairy armpit or something. Eesh.

Totally overshadowing all of the above is the death of Ed McMahon, which is totally overshadowed by the death of Farrah Fawcett, which is even more totally overshadowed by the death (just this evening) of Michael Jackson. Rest in peace, y'all, and if celebrities could please quit dying long enough for me to catch up, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Playing in the background: Something choir-y on the Spa channel. Say it like Jeff Dunham: "Sp----ah."

In case you missed it, I swam the Texas Tough inaugural 400-meter open water swim on Sunday. Like most amateur athletic contests everywhere, it's held to sponsor some worthy cause or other, in this case Childrens Hospital Dallas. Also like most amateur athletic contests everywhere, it was hosted by a bunch of psuedo-celebrities I'd never heard of and populated by a bunch of ordinary folks, some weekend warriors, a couple of strange guys, some former Olympians and, uh, me. Fat chicks tend not to show up at these things, except as spectators, so I was kind of unique. All the same, though, I got a cute li'l number written on my arm in permanent marker, a complementary baby-blue swim cap from "Kiefer Athletic Supply, Your Source For Discount Swimming Goods" and a timing chip strapped to my ankle with a velcro thingy. And here's the kicker, I didn't place dead last. I fully expected to - in Jen's vocabulary, a "race" translates as, "Jen makes it over the finish line in one piece, all by herself with no help." But, I actually beat one guy. That was pretty cool.

My time was 10:46, which is just about twice as long as the former Olympians. I'm okay with that. Former Olympians tend to be pretty fast. Also, I do not look like a swimmer. Click here to see what a swimmer is supposed to look like. I'm too short, I have li'l chicken arms and I have a spare pair of floater bouys (ie, breasts) strapped to my chest. Breasts are right out. There are no breasts in swimming. Remind me to get a tube top or some duct tape, ala Princess Leia (in space, nobody can see your breasts.) Anyway, I noticed that in both my race and the 1.2 mile race that was held later, the mode of finishing was about the same. There were three or four really fast guys way out front of everybody else, then a whole big cluster of ordinary folks, and then two or three outliers trailing behind the big cluster. I was the last of the big cluster of ordinary folks. And that was just fine a roo with me.

The race took place at Lake Carolyn in Irving (which I always wanna call Irvine; hey, it's not like I lived in Cali for eleven years or anything.) The lake water was actually pleasant, and not nearly as muddy as L. Ron Hubbard, er, I mean, Lake Ray Hubbard. The race course called for us to swim out from the dock and around a big orange bouy, then make a left and swim past two yellow bouys to another big orange bouy, then make another left and swim like crazy back to the dock. I didn't mean to swim the whole thing at top speed, figuring that since I'd have limited vision (ie, even less than usual) and there'd be a crowd around me (at least for the first ten seconds) and it was my first open water swim, I might just wanna take it easy, swim at moderate speed and concentrate on getting there in one piece. But then the air horn blew and the adrenaline kicked in and I swam that thing faster than heck. (For me.) By the time I staggered back up the dock and over the timing mat I was sucking some serious wind. But the announcer (the psuedo-celebrity) clouted me on the shoulder and said, "Good on ya, lady" and as I was catching my breath another guy scrambled up the dock behind me, so as I was saying, I wasn't last, and life was just grand.

They fed us, breakfast burritos and "smoothie shots" (CUTE!!) and bottles of water of course. There was music and free t-shirts and coffee and a general cameraderie. At some point in the past two years I quit being the team mascot and became just one of the gang, and I'm not sure how that happened but I'm glad I finally rank. People came up and talked to me, including one of the former Olympians. Wow. Anyway, it was pretty cool. My first swimming event since I was, oh, about thirteen, I think. I liked it so much I might do the fun bike race in September. I'm staying out of the running events, tho. A triathlete I am not.

Did I mention I wasn't last? I wasn't last. That was pretty awesome. Go me!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Book o' the Decade and Friday Frights

Playing in the background: The soft gurgle of the kitty fountain

As far as finding work goes, this week sux. I haven't heard nada from anybody except for the ever popular, "We haven't heard back from them yet," which is probably true but that doesn't make me any more fond of hearing it. If nobody hears from anybody, and if they then don't tell me they've heard from anybody because they haven't heard from anybody, does that mean I've heard everything or nothing? No, don't ask me to repeat that. I'm not sure I can.

While that was (not) going on, though, I read the book Madness by Marya Hornbacher. I'm already a big fan of Ms. Hornbacher's by virtue of Wasted, an almost-impossible-to-put-down true story of anorexia, bulimia, and the completely unglamorous things that they do to ordinary people and the people who love them. Marya's family is spookily similar to mine, and all the way through it I kept saying, "Hey, that's my dad! That's my mom! That's my grandfather! That's exactly the way they act!" What's even more spooky is that by growing up under this same basic formula, I became a compulsive overater. Now, that's by no means a good thing--survivable for a longer period of time, maybe, depending on the person--but it's obvious, at least to me, that I could have very easily become anorexic or bulimic instead. The coin just flipped the other way, that's all. Certainly I have a lot of the same weird eating behaviors Marya did. I eat peanut butter sandwiches in a certain way, and M&Ms have to be eaten according to color and in a certain order, for example. And who's to say anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating aren't all just symptoms of the same disease, rather than diseases themselves? Hmm.

Anyway, enter Madness, which picks up where Wasted left off. Ms. Hornbacher doesn't just have an eating disorder, she's also bipolar, and she's not just bipolar, she also has the most severe type. The eating disorder covered up the bipolar disorder for a while. Once it was "cured" (read, in remission) the bipolar disorder became screamingly obvious. Here's the paragraph that so cracked me up, partly because it really is funny but also because it sounds a lot like the way my brain works sometimes:

"For example, I have this dentist, right? And he works downtown. But every time I have to go, I have a total meltdown and usually cancel. I've canceled my last four appointments. And then there was that day where I had a bunch of errands to run, and I got scared, so on the way there, I called to cancel, because the meds were making me fall asleep, because I was giving up and going home. But then I felt I called the dentist to tell (him) I was coming after all. Then I went to get a manicure, but I fell asleep while she was painting my nails, so I called...the dentist to cancel again. But then by the time I went out to my car, I was feeling more awake, so I called...the fucking dentist to tell (him) I was definitely coming. But then on the way to the dentist I got scared of downtown and the parking garage, so I had to turn around and go home because by then I was totally insane. Because I'm a complete idiot and I freak out over nothing. I don't like downtown. I don't like parking garages. I can't deal with a fucking parking garage." (Page 250) When her shrink, to whom she's telling this story, suggests she just find another dentist that doesn't use a parking garage, "I stare at her, astonished. 'That's what a normal person would do,' she says calmly...'But there's no reason!' I shout. 'I should be able to deal with downtown and a stupid parking garage!' 'Why should you?' (asks the shrink.) I sit back in my chair, stunned..."

Anyway, check it out. It's amazing. And confidential to Ms. Hornbacher: You mentioned Buddhism. Can't possibly hurt. Buddha said once, "Don't trust your mind. It will lie to you." Uponst hearing this I was both horrified and relieved. Oh my God! You mean I don't have to believe myself when my brain tells me I'm stupid and ugly and a screwup? Oh my God! Wow! What a concept!!

Friday Frights: I saw a really bad horror movie this week, The Empty Acre. I was disappointed because the premise sounded so good. A young farm family has a field where nothing will grow. Animals who wander into it die. People who get too close to it mysteriously disappear. And it's getting bigger by the day...I know I've said this a million times, but here it is again: A CONCEPT IS NOT A STORY. A CONCEPT IS NOT A STORY. A CONCEPT IS NOT A STORY. (There. That always makes me feel better.) There was no story in this concept. Or if there was, it made no sense. Let me put it this way; when there's an alternative ending, and you watch it because the original ending makes no sense, and the alternative ending doesn't make any sense either, you are in trouble. The Empty Acre gets a MEH. That's one star of five. Avoid this one like, uh, an empty acre.

Okay, off to my open water swim lesson now. Cheers!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Best. Birthday. Ever.

Playing in the background: Joan, messing with tarts. No, that's not as naughty as it sounds (alas).

June 12 quote from the Zen calendar: "Surely joy is the condition of life." --Henry David Thoreau

Holy cow, I'm 40. Still not sure how that happened. I could swear that just a few days ago I was 13. We finished the records project yesterday, so I had my birthday off work. This is good. Everybody should get their birthday off work. I didn't have to get up early, but I did because there were presents involved. Not many, this being a tough year on everybody, but more than enough to make me feel loved. Here's the List o'Loot:

Books: Madness by Marya Hornbacher (a stunner; I fell into it yesterday and couldn't get back out) and Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen-Bays, both from Joan.

Gift certificate for Fire Mountain Gems from my sister. Whoo hoo!

A Thor's Hammer pendant, also from Joan, in celebration of The Book Publication (and there's still time to get your copy! See above.)

Tarts from Joan and Tammy and Tracy. I don't eat cake anymore so that's going to be the Birthday Treat at dinner tonight.

Somebody, probably Tammy and Tracy, renewed my subscription to Tricycle Magazine.

And here's the topper, the clincher, the Ultimate Maximum Present. My mom must have been planning this for years, literally. She sent me a scrapbook of pictures and mementi from my first forty years on the planet. It's bound in kid leather that must have cost a bloody fortune, and it's full of pictures of me doing all the stuff I love to do. Including swimming and wearing long strings of beads (circa 1974 - I wonder if they are love beads.) It goes from roughly birth through our wedding last July. (Yeah, okay, it was technically our third wedding, is it our fault California can't get its story straight?) What's amazing is that you can look at all these pictures of me from childhood and say, "Now there's a solid little kid." I always thought I was hugely fat. But I wasn't, really. Just of a size and obviously muscular. Quite amazing. There's also a pic of me in a wild hot pink dress for a ballet recital, and since that's one of my favorite colors to this day, it definitely left an impression.

And I got scads of cards and emails from all over the planet. Somebody (Joan, maybe?) went to a lot of trouble to let people know when my birthday was, and that it was a Big One (with a zero after it). There's evidently a gathering this evening in my honor, for which I should go shower and change shortly. But first, here's How I Spent My Birthday, by Jen.

I slept late, as I believe I mentioned. Then I headed out to L. Ron Hubbard, er, Lake Ray Hubbard in Rockwall for an open water swimming lesson with my coach. Open water swimming, in case you did not know this, is a whole different ball of wax from swimming in a pool. Currents and winds and stuff. Fish. Unexpected floating corpses (okay, not that day). My coach followed me in her kayak out to the bouy, which I couldn't really see ("Just swim that way," she said), and we did a little tour de bouys and then came back into shore and then went out and back again. The whole thing took an hour and fifteen minutes and I was more tired than I can ever remember being after a swim. It was windy and choppy and I was really glad the kayak was there because I might have had to grab onto it at some point. I didn't. The coach said I did a great job for my first time out. I'm hoping to enter this open water swim that's next Sunday, and this was kind of a test run. I think I passed.

So, I was tired and muddy and I felt fantastic. I stopped at Starbuck's on the way back and then went home and took a shower. I had mud in places I didn't know I had places. The water in this lake is so murky that when you hold your arm out, you can only see about to your elbow. Your fingers are invisible. After lunch a nap was definitely in order, and I was joined by not one, not two, but all three cats (okay, Caesar kept an eye on me from across the room).

It was Friday, so of course we had to take in a Friday Fright. A Haunting in Connecticut at the dollar theater. I'll give this one somewhere between a GOOD and a GREAT (that is, two to three stars). It could have been a lot scarier but it had a good heart. If you've seen the special on the Discovery Channel, you know this family moved into a former funeral home made over into a rental house, where all manner of strange things started happening to them and especially to their oldest son, who was sick with cancer. The movie took that and ran with it, brought in another story line about a dead kid from a previous century, a possible past life thing, an old Russian Orthodox priest (or maybe he was Romanian?) and, um, bodies that were mysteriously missing from the local cemetery. Automatic one star deduction for too many horror-movie shots obviously missed. Like, you know, the girl's fixing her hair in the mirror and she reaches down to get something and while her face isn't in the mirror you see Something Really Scary. They had five or six chances on that shot and didn't nail a one. I grudgingly admit the Spooky Reflection in the Turned Off TV Set was pretty good, though. And of course there were Milk-Duds. There are always Milk-Duds.

I got home just before Joan and we stuck a pizza in the oven. Then Tammy and Tracy came over to make tarts, as I mentioned. I worked on Tammy's necklace for her brother's wedding and Tracy and Joan dished about -- whatever they dish about, algebra, torture, the finer points of blackberry glaze. There was an episode of House on, which was a rerun, but I love House no matter what he's up to. And then I fell into bed, exhausted, about eleven.

A birthday full of all my favorite things. It just don't get no better than that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta knock off another chapter of Madness before I hop in the shower.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Meters swum today: None. Open water swim tomorrow, though. Whoo hoo!
Playing in the background: The new song by The Sounds, "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake." Excellent guitar work. Not sure about that vocalist, tho.

I have an hour and a half left in my thirties. Then the clock will strike midnight and I'll be officially Over The Hill. I'm not sure what hill - Dallas doesn't have a whole lot of hills - but does that mean it'll be downhill from here? I like downhill, especially on my bike. Very cool.

When I was just a youngster, I used to dream about the time when I turned forty. I always imagined I'd be an unemployed paralegal in Dallas. (Okay, well, actually I was planning to run a small country or something.) I was thinking this morning that sometimes it seems like I was thirteen just a few minutes ago and other times I feel like I've been alive for years and years. Eons, even. Einstein was right; time is all about perception. Which means there is no absolutely correct time. Which means I may not be forty. I might be seven or fifty-six or a hundred and twenty-three, depending on where you're standing. Ultimately the only real proof we have of the passage of time is the visual reality of aging. Growing grey hair and all that. Ponder that next time it's taking the barista too long to make your latte. By the way, I have plenty of grey hair, but I had plenty of grey hair when I was twenty and I imagine I'll still have plenty of grey hair when I'm fifty. I'm also rather fond of lattes.

My document inspection gig wrapped up today and as a consequence, I'll have my birthday off. After my open water swim I'll probably take in a movie. (Friday Frights, anyone? A Haunting In Connecticut is finally at the dollar theater.) I think Joan is cooking up something for Saturday but I don't know what it is. There's WriteClub on Sunday and I think we're all going out afterward. However, I'm not adverse to celebrating all month long if future gatherings are in the works. Oh geez, only an hour and fifteen minutes left. The implications are just staggering.

I also thought, when I was a youngster, that by the time I was forty I'd have some great profound insights into the human condition and be able to say wise things that would make the venerable Asian masters nod and say, "Ah, yes, it is so." Instead, all I can say is wing it and see what happens. Oh, and we should all try to be nicer to other people and animals. But that goes without saying.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Friday Frights (on Tuesday): Enron

Playing in the background: "The Science of the Movies" on the Sci channel

Hi all. Sorry for lack of blogitude lately. I've actually been (gasp) working. It's not very exciting - digging through hundreds of boxes of payroll records looking for certain records from a certain time frame involving certain locations in certain states - but it pays well, so hey, why not do it. Should go on for another couple of weeks. If things go exactly according to plan, we'll finish on my birthday. How cool is that: "Happy 40th, Jen, you're unemployed again!" Frickin' yay.

I did see a scary movie on Friday, but it wasn't my usual type. It was Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, a documentary about the rise and fall of the eighth largest corporation in the United States (at that time). If you lived in California during the "rolling blackouts" of the early Oh Ohs, you really ought to check out this film. I did, and even at the time I remember thinking, "Something's not right here. We can't possibly be out of power in the middle of December when we're hardly using any, and why are all these plants shutting down for 'maintenance' at the same time?"

Guess what, I was right all along. Whose fault was it? Enron's. Turns out their traders were purposely manipulating the electricity market to force up prices. Calling up power plants and asking them (ordering them) to shut down for a while because demand was low. Jamming transmission lines by sending power to nowhere so the power that needed to go somewhere had to wait, and then charging the utilities who needed the power to free up the line. How much did prices go up while this was going on? About forty thousand percent. Yeah, that's a 4 with four zeroes and some commas after it. To say nothing of the chaos and mayhem that went on all over the state as the "rolling blackouts" rolled along.

I got sent home from work one day when a rolling blackout shut my office building. (The air circulation failed, and so did the backup generator, which rendered the building uninhabitable. I'm not making this up.) My mom was visiting us for Christmas
and was buying a rather pricey vase in a souvenir shop in old town San Diego. The power went out, the shop's computer went down, and they couldn't run her credit card, so she left without it. People had to be rescued from elevators. Governor Grey Davis lost his job, which may or may not have been a good thing depending on your point of view, and Arnold "The Guvernator" Schwartzenegger took over. 500,000 people in the state needed some kind of electrical device, like an air filter or an oxygen system or some other life support, to stay alive. We don't know how many of them died or suffered serious harm. And this wasn't an apocalypse-scenario, "we've run out of resources and we're all gonna die" type crisis. This was an invented situation so some folks could make lots of money.

Oh, and it was also illegal.

The ironic thing is, Enron never actually made any money. Their stock prices went up and up and up because they were using something called "mark to market accounting" to claim profits from projects that hadn't actually come into existence yet. When they started to run some debt, they "sold" it to a shadow corporation to make it look like Enron didn't have any negatives on its balance sheet. It's like a bad sci-fi story, only it really happened. When the whole thing crashed and burned, which was inevitable, 20,000 people lost their jobs. Stockholders lost their life savings. Arthur Andersen, Enron's accounting firm, went down in flames. So did their law firm and quite a few other companies that had worked with them.

Guess where our current recession started, folks? Right there in Houston in 2002. Oh, it took a while to infect the rest of the U.S. economy, but think about it. Subprime mortgages? Mortgage securities sold to China for unreal money to finance projects that weren't going to happen? Bank failures as a direct result? Bailouts? Connect the dots. Today Enron. Tomorrow GM, Chrysler, Bear Stearns, Bank of America - oh, wait a minute, that's already happened.

Anyway, it's scary as hell. Jen ranks it a WOW, five stars on my five star scale. And frankly, I can't think of anything else to say about it. Next week I'll watch something a little less scary. Like, say, Drag Me To Hell.