Thursday, March 3, 2011


For our flight to New Zealand, I wound up investing in a portable DVD player and a few classic Tom and Jerry DVDs. That was easily the best $75 I have ever spent in my life (except for the extra money I pay to have the vet make home visits, after I realized my cats were so scared of the car ride that they tend to poop all over themselves in terror while in the carrier and then leap directly into my arms once released).

Stella was entranced by the cartoons, making the very long flight so incredibly easy that I estimate the DVD player added 6 or 7 months to my life. If you do the math (a job I outsourced to an Indian subcontractor, since as a product of American schools I can't actually do it myself) that comes out to about $10 per month of additional life expectancy. Talk about a great rate of return! I think the "individual mandate" provision in Obama's health care plan should refer not to a requirement to carry individual health insurance but to own a portable DVD player and  maybe a couple of Warner Brothers DVDs. Our health care costs would plummet, there'd be no more need for health care reform, and we could find something else to call each other Nazis over. There's so many less-prominent controversies out there that it sees only fair to give some of the other issues a chance to divide us. Here's one -- proposed eradication of the Mediterranean fruit fly. Ready, set, polarize!

Look how naturally the topic led to proposed restrictions on public unions in Wisconsin! A lot has been said about Governor Scott Walker's efforts to slash take-home pay for public employees and break public sector unions, but I have a theory that I haven't heard advanced anywhere else. It goes like this: One week after the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl and a wave of good feeling unites all cheeseheads, the Governor kills the euphoria with his contentious proposal. That can't be a coincidence. Do you see where I'm going with this? Look, I don't want to point fingers, but somebody's got to say it: I think the Governor might be a member of the Chicago Bears in disguise.

But back to Tom and Jerry. I bought a disc of "classic" cartoons for Stella to watch on the flight to New Zealand, with "classic" apparently being code for "shockingly racist." Many of the episodes include a housekeeper character, a black woman shown only from the neck down who shuffles around in slippers and patched socks, with an enormous rear end the size of a Toyota Yaris. I thought about talking with Stella about  how this woman was portrayed, but then I would also have to discuss with her a whole lot of other things, like why it wouldn't be funny in real life if a cat accidentally ate a nail which then got attracted to a giant magnet  held by a mouse. And how in the real world, it's actually quite painful when your eyes bo-i-i-ng out of your head.

During our travel to New Zealand, Stella easily watched as many cartoons as she has in her entire life so far. The result was that she was cheerful, easy to work with, and a joy to be around. I think our experience could hold some lessons for how to resolve the impasse in Wisconsin. I hope that Governor Walker will listen to the voices of Wisconsinites as we express our opposition to his policies. Failing that, I hope he'll at least consider watching some Sylvester and Tweety.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, my kids are crazy for the old Road Runner cartoons - they laugh their butts off. Neither one has tried to drop an anvil on the other. So far.
    Dan B.