Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another Slow Day at Work

I should have brought something more fun to read than The Iraq Study Group Report. I was opposed to the war from the beginning, for all the reasons that have become painfully apparent to almost everyone. Reading that it has turned out the way any rational observer could have predicted it would is just depressing.

Who the hell thought we would be able to establish a melting-pot democracy in a cobbled-together country of tribal regions where people would rather kill each other than accommodate each other's philosophical differences? This isn't just a stereotyping slur. It's a coldly clinical observation of the behavior reported daily from over there. It's perilously close to happening over here, as people in this country become more and more rigid in their own beliefs. I guarantee there are a number of Americans who would rather shoot first and negotiate later. Sometimes, briefly, I am one of them. So imagine how it must be in a place where that attitude is not only dominant but celebrated.

No one would listen to what I think, in the run-up to war. Anyone opposed to war in general is a pussy coward, right?

War is the ultimate expression of despair. It is the ultimate acknowledgment that life is hopeless, that a violent death in the prime of life is a good deal.

Who is more delusional, the person who goes into war confident they won't be one of the ones to die, or the person who welcomes the death? Someone will die. Perhaps many will die. They will die because human beings have designed machines with which to kill each other, and enjoy using them. All they need is an excuse.

People who die in one of our mass delusions are human sacrifices on the altar of irrationality. If we are really so tragically addicted to inflicting violence on each other I am gladder than ever to have brought no children into this mess.

Is enlightenment a matter of physical evolution? Do we need to produce more offspring to create an enlightened majority that can end the crazy carnage? Or are existing people capable of learning better ways to live? If you look at the history of our systems of government, evolution of thought is evident. Is it a mirror of physical development in the brain, or simply the drawn-out process of thought pursued by our species at different rates in different regions for divergent external reasons? Either way, if it doesn't take a solid leap forward pretty quickly the answer will not only be irrelevant, it will be lost in the tide of blood and pestilence that our learning disability will unleash upon us.

It's tempting to imagine annihilating someone who annoys you. As I said, I have considered it in passing many times. But fair is fair. I would not want to be subject to annihilation by the many people I have annoyed. I've learned to walk away, sometimes far away, to get away from people I would be inclined to hurt. Maybe I would give way to the violence if I lived in a place where I could not escape those others. But war is not a practical solution, unless we're going to have a really big one to thin us out in a hurry and let the survivors learn to leave each other that elbow room.

I really hoped we could just let the whole population thing simmer down gradually. But I'll have to go along with whatever the most violently inclined decide to do to us all. You can't stop an explosion once it has started. You can only try to talk the person holding the detonator into putting it down without setting it off. Duck and cover is a distant second choice.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Online Forums

Online forums are great places to spend hours discussing the problems of the world while actually doing nothing about them. They remind me of nothing so much as the rambling conversations of college-educated stoners. Those are great fun for the stoners, and sometimes yield a good insight or two, but characteristically veer off into food and sex on the way from one tangent to another.

If you have time to stay involved in the conversation and affect its course, you obviously have way too much leisure.

Some forums relate to specific disciplines, like a kayaking forum I used to visit when I had time to paddle and the unfounded hope that I might do so with some regularity. That one and the cycling forums I have visited are dominated by the most single-minded participants.

One has to wonder how the most prolific posters to the special interest forums have time to pursue the interest, since they seem to be at their computer at almost any hour of any day.

Well, enough of my specious drivel. I have to finish cooking supper.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Hate to Cut Trees

Every tree is a community. Even if it overhangs the house or shades the garden, each tree supports all kinds of life.

It's easy to stand there in the summer, when I wouldn't cut them, and plan the major clearance I will do when the weather turns cold, the birds stop nesting and the hummingbirds aren't using the protected airspace the tall pines provide. The resolve might even last into the fall. But this fall was warm and wet. Not the best time to cut. We had some pretty strong winds. I would be working alone. Better to wait.

January is here. The ground is frozen. I stand there, looking up the trunk of each intended victim. From the canopy, little pick, pick, scrabble, scrabble noises drift down from where birds and squirrels forage in the upper branches. They would take off in a hurry if I fired up the chainsaw, but they remind me that a tree is a place, not just a thing.

Trees fall over naturally. Wind, snow, ice or lightning can topple them. Fire can take out acres of them, though that's rare in the eastern United States. Our entire forests are smaller than some clearcuts and wildfires out west. I laugh when I hear an eight-acre brush fire called big. But around here it is.

When trees fall over naturally, they lie there and rot. The canopy stays at least partially erect. The tangle of branches provides cover for small animals and birds. As the trunk decays, everything from microbes to woodpeckers can get something out of it. Small mammals can live in and under it.

When humans cut trees, they slice and dice the treetop into small slash, or even run it through a chipper. They cut the trunk into lumber or firewood, or use it for pulp or biomass fuel. It goes away.

The trees I would cut do not represent endangered plant species, nor do they host rare wildlife in and on themselves. Of course as humans chew up more and more habitat, more species come under siege, but not around here any time soon. I don't think terribly globally when I look up the trees and do not want to cut them. I just think that what I do cannot be undone. I far prefer my plant and animal neighbors to most of my human ones. Someone just up the road seems to find an awful lot of noisy work to do with heavy equipment, day after day. Next door to that is the hunting preserve, where people can pay a tidy sum to blast away with shotguns at a bunch of exotic fowl raised in a pen and flushed out for the fun of killing them.

I will lay a serious bet none of those people ever gave a second thought to cutting a tree that even mildly inconvenienced them.

As a chainsaw maniac, I have taken down dozens of victims. It never gets easier. They're not sentient beings. I don't give them personalities. I just think about all the time they have existed. I wonder whether my own short-term interests are really worth destroying something I could never have made.

Then, of course, there's the work. We don't cut trees just to cut them. I will have to process that great whale of a carcass by myself, dragging slash into the woods, cutting and stacking logs to be split and burned later. Forget what you've read about not burning pine. Dry it well, mix it with the good stuff and burn it hot. I clean the chimney every year.

Every part of the chore is unattractive. Some of the trees will take my puny chainsaw to its limit. Some of the placements will require some tricky cutting if I don't want to crush the garage or the house. It's easy to keep putting it off. The living prefer to keep living. It's hard for me to deny them that.

Don't slow down for anything

All this winter, the television news has carried stories about the storms hitting from the Northwest to the West and Midwest. The accompanying pictures and video show car wreck after car wreck.

Traffic accidents have become the emblem of winter hazards. We have grown so accustomed to speed that many of us only reduce it when we hit something.

When I look at the crumpled sheet metal, shattered glass and wheels pointed at the sky I wonder what it was like more than a century ago. Would there be news stories like this:

"A hard-hitting winter storm has brought treacherous travel conditions to the region. A four-sleigh pileup on Smithville Road sent two drivers to the hospital. One horse had to be shot."

Granted, a lot of the storms in recent years have hit areas where drivers can reasonably expect to avoid snow, but this year has seen plenty of them come across mountainous areas or parts of the country where snow really isn't all that rare. Even New England has finally been blessed with a frozen coating. And, right on cue, people are smashing themselves up like they'd never seen a flake or a frozen droplet.

Sliding the car around is fun, I admit. But there's a time and a place for that. If you're doing it on purpose, have a little restraint. And if you did it on purpose and ended up wrapped around a tree, you stink! Go practice in a parking lot. An empty parking lot, by the way.

Have fun out there. Play nice.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Laughter Yoga

Laughter Yoga is the latest craze. The news shows all seem to be featuring a segment on it.

The premise is simple. A hearty laugh confers all sorts of benefits. Blood pressure goes down, blood oxygen level goes up, stress melts away.

According to the proponents of laughter yoga, you don't have to start with a real laugh. Forcing a fake, "Ha ha, ho ho" can lead you into a more natural, unforced laugh. Just give it a try.

My wife has been using the technique while taking her blood pressure and almost always sees a good result.

As much as I like to make other people laugh, I don't cut loose with a big guffaw too often. So I wonder: can I substitute a really impressive string of profanity? If my technique proves to work, I will start my own club to meet in the mornings. Imagine us out there in the park at the same time as the laughing club.

"Ha ha ha. Ho ho ho."


"Ho ho ho! Hee hee hee!"


I don't know. It's making me laugh.

Friday, January 12, 2007

When Tiggers Attack

A New Hampshire resident recently lodged a formal complaint with the management of Walt Disney World, claiming that the cast member costumed as Tigger threw a punch at his son while posing for a photograph.

"This is supposed to be the safest place on Earth!" I saw him declare on the morning news on New Hampshire's Channel 9.

The summer I worked there, in 1977, one costumed character was stabbed by a guest. The guest claimed he "just wanted to see how thick the costume was." On an evening shift, Alice in Wonderland was sexually assaulted behind Cinderella's Castle. That was broken up quickly by the arrival of other people.

Rounding out the intrusions of the real world on the Magic Kingdom that season, a toddler drowned in the Swan Boat Lagoon when he wandered off from his parents during the Main Street Electrical Parade, and an older man suffered a fatal heart attack on Space Mountain.

On my shift, someone dangled his son off the Swiss Family Treehouse, declaring, "You will NOT be afraid of heights." To tell the truth, I only heard garbled yelling. The details were reported to me by an agitated guest who wanted me to call security. By that time, the Father of the Year had blended in with the other happy people enjoying their summer vacation. And the kid knew better than to open his mouth.

The guests outnumber the employees at the park, and we were trained to be accommodating. The guests were encouraged to be self indulgent. Neither side was a model of perfection, but add the missteps of the many and they far outweigh the missteps of the few. I was threatened with a punch in the face more than once by drunk boyfriends when I had to mention to their girlfriends the Disney rule against carrying food and drinks through an attraction. For crying out loud, people. It's a big-ass concrete tree. It will still be here in ten minutes when you've finished enjoying your drinks.

The video offered by our latest victim of Magic Failure didn't impress me with the unprovoked savagery of Tigger's attack. It looked like he was falling over backwards and flung an arm out. In the end, only Tigger himself knows for sure.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Surge

The President's decision to beef up the number of troops in Iraq raises a number of questions.

If the Iraqis have ten thousand or twenty thousand troops ready to step up, where have they been and what have they been doing until now?

Will a half-assed surge of twenty thouand American troops really overwhelm the various resistance groups in the country?

These are questions the average American cannot answer. We don't get the tiniest fraction of the information available to the government entities who decide these things. But we can certainly wonder, especially when friends and loved ones are being sent over and permanently altered by the experience of war.

We have to welcome these people back in whatever form they are returned to us. We have to say something encouraging to them while they're over there in danger, whether we believe in their mission or not.

We are sending human soldiers to fight inanimate devices. The explosives on roadsides, in cars and worn around the bodies of deluded humans do not fight. They just lie there. They can't lose or win. They're as impersonal as rat poison. One could lurk in any pile of trash or any car's trunk. This is not a battle.

The various hostile factions in Iraq operate in a region and culture familiar to them. Because they can engage in harassing tactics and use set-and-forget weapons, snipe from vantage points in familiar neighborhoods, even without resorting to suicide operations, then melt into the crowd, we cannot speak with confidence of our inevitable eventual victory. A philosophical shift might sweep the region. But as long as someone feels like fighting, they will be able to do so. If a schoolkid in the United States can make pipe bombs and stick them in mailboxes, people in Iraq with much stronger motives can do at least as much. The only way to prevent it would be to install a tyrant who would crush the troublemakers.

Because the definition of victory has changed many times since the famous "Mission Accomplished" photo opportunity signaled the begining of the real war in Iraq, how can we be sure we will ever achieve one satisfactory enough to allow us to leave?

Personally, I can't forget that troop numbers are actually made up of individual human lives. Many of them might consider me contemptible or naive for thinking that we need to outgrow war, but that does not allow me to turn away from them as they pay the price for the mistakes of their Commander-in-Chief.

I will admit that I do not know what has gone into making these decisions, so I can only speak very generally about how they look. I do know that many of the people in the greatest danger cannot be allowed to know a great deal more than I do. Their job is to carry out orders, not question them. They deserve a plan and an operation worthy of the risk of their lives. Are they getting it?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Immune System is Bullshit

Our body's defenses against disease are laughable.

Consider the common cold. The virus tries to enter the body. The body responds by making your nose run. You might be talking to someone, perhaps in a formal setting, when you feel the unstoppable release of liquid from up inside your nostrils. Anything you do to halt its advance will be unattractive.

At the same time mucus is starting to flow, said membranes begin to hurt. The pain may actually lead the runny nose by hours. It serves no purpose except to warn you that you are about to go through a week or two of misery.

Perhaps you will sneeze. As pleasant as this is, it does exactly nothing to halt the progress of worse symptoms. You're only doing the disease a favor by ejecting it out toward other victims. Or you could try to capture that wet blast in a tissue or handkerchief, to the general nauseation of anyone who has to see you do it. Then you must find a place to dispose of your prize. If you have no catcher's mitt handy, you get to blow that mess into your sleeve, or lean away from anyone else and fire it toward the floor. Good luck with that.

Along comes the tickle in your throat to provoke more room-clearing sounds. And this cough -- you guessed it -- can go on until you are doubled up with your vision blacked out, without relieving the jabbing little claws of whatever viral invader is trying to consume your flesh.

On goes the illness through the low-grade fever, light-headedness, broken sleep, sore throat, congestion, all of which we are told is our body fighting off disease. Fighting it off? Throwing wide the gates and letting it make free with the food, wine, artwork and young women of the town, more like.

You call these defenses? As the owner of a human body, I am not satisfied. If you want to call an immune system good, I want it to kill off the invading bug with the least fuss, in the shortest amount of time, preferably just a few minutes. No hacking, wheezing, snorting, sniffling, bowl-hugging or porcelain-riding. Do your damn job. Our immune systems resist disease the way a veteran politician resists the blandishments of a powerful lobbyist. It's a token at best.

The best immune system is the one you never see working. Disease organisms just drop dead when they see it. No one gets one of those. If you're around people at all, one of them is bound to spooge you with something obnoxious eventually.

As you may have guessed, enough people finally hacked and spewed on me to give me the wretched, endless cold that almost everyone seems to be dragging with them this year. The fun has just begun. Snurfle. Honk. WaaaaCHOO!!

Immune system...yeah, right.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Back on the Blade

Just on the Internet alone there are vast numbers of quick thinkers pushing the cutting edge of discovery and analysis rapidly ahead on a curving front.

An edge is no good without a blade behind it, unless the cutting device is supported by immense energy and is only a molecule thick. But where does that leave those of us who fall behind it? There is no broad wedge of steel to hold us up, only a tubulent mass of particles swirling along behind the sweeping edge.

The curve changes shape through the effects of so many and varied forces that no one has yet figured out how to account for them all. So at any moment a trailing particle might suddenly be caught up again in that leading slice. Or it could dangle back there and eventually drop out into the void.

People who desperately chase the cutting edge of human thought and progress might have slightly better odds of actually remaining on it, but it's a hard ride. You're doing well if you can just convince enough people you're on it to impress them and squeeze a little momentary prestige and income out of it. The income may be monetary or psychic. Try to find a safe place to carry it as we all keep moving on.

Changing Times

Our winter precipitation has gone from stuff with time-honored names like snow, sleet and freezing rain to names like scuzz, glop and yuck.

If we're still around in 30 years, expect to see tourist promtions like "Visit Sunny Maine." As wheat cultivation moves up onto what was Canadian tundra, you can enjoy some Greenland maple syrup on that stack of pancakes you eat for breakfast.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Prayers of One Who Does Not Pray

A friend long silent sent me a long email detailing the difficult decade she has undergone since the last time we saw each other.

She's a church-goer. She alluded to spirituality, but did not go into details.

Left to find something to tell her that conveyed how I would think of her, I told her she has my prayers. I don't pray, but if I did, I would ask for her path to be smoother, her joys to be greater and her troubles diminished. If positive thoughts count for anything, she gets those from me anyway. How much worse would her situation have been if I had not sent the occasional warm though wafting into the cosmos?

She is very strong. That may work against her, because people take her strength for granted. Even battered by circumstances, she keeps moving on. I don't really know the day-to-day reality when I live far away and have heard only this condensed account of ten years, but I know how she seemed, and how she seems the same.

Strong people often do not know they are strong, because they go to their limits, were they feel tired, sore, frightened and weary. They feel the way the rest of us feel. They're just feeling it way out there beyond us. The experience of life is the same bewildering muddle of missteps and confusion, triumph and setback.

Even when strong people realize they are putting out beyond the rest of us, they feel no better. Some of them mistake their strength for the norm, and wonder why everyone else is slacking off. Others shoulder the weight of the Earth with varying degrees of resentment or codependent compulsion.

A few of them juggle the planets with pride and pleasure, while riding a unicycle across the Milky Way. Don't you just want to throw an asteroid down in front of them?

Be nice, now.

My friend drags the stones chained to her because it's what we do while we're alive. Some people have small burdens. Some people have servants to carry most of them. I can't tell you if any of this is evaluated, rewarded or punished in the Great Beyond. In case it's not, I do advocate that we treat each other a little more nicely while we're here. Do what you can, when you can, to slide those stones a few yards, or cut some of the chains away, if you can manage it.

We need to listen to each other, in case no one else is listening.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Who Should Marry? And Why?

Something Massachusetts governor and Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said the other day finally set off the right bell in my pinball brain last night.

Mitt said, to support his opposition to homosexual marriage, "It's not about what adults do. Marriage is about the nurturing and raising of children."

Ah. In that case, homosexual couples who have adopted children should be allowed to marry. It's not about what the adults do.

Going further, childless heterosexual married couples should have their marriages dissolved. Especially if medical records show one or both partners to be infertile, no children can be produced. You'd better run out and adopt one or two.

Indeed, following Mitt's logic, any couple that produces a child should be automatically entered into a state of wedlock.

Considering Mitt's recent switch to a "pro-life" stance, every teen pregnancy should be carried to term and the young couple locked into marriage because of it.

No one can divorce as long as they have a child under 18.

No homosexual couple should be allowed to adopt. A child born to any abusive, neglectful, baby-drowning nut job is better off in that natural, heterosexual environment than being raised by men or women of confusing gender preference.

If we adopt Mitt's notion of marriage solely as a breeding contract, heterosexual couples who marry will only have a probationary marriage. If they get all the way to the end of their reproductive lives without scoring a goal, do they have to split up and divide their assets?

If only heterosexual couples are approved to marry, and then only for purposes of procreation, will the government provide a substitute spouse to replace one that dies or proves absolutely too criminally violent to be allowed to remain in the marriage? The substitute would serve until the survivor of the original marriage married again. That would require an approved mate, of course.

I'm glad the Republicans are against too much government interference in people's private lives.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Today's Specials

When you go to a restaurant, a person hands you a list of all the foods from which you can choose, and even makes suggestions to guide your selection.

When you go to vote, someone hands you a list of all the candidates from which you can choose, but they're not supposed to make any recommendations, even if you ask them to.

If they did it might go something like this:

"Good evening and welcome to The Polling Place. I am Sergio, and I will be your poll worker this evening.

"We have a fine selection of candidates for any taste. For the main course you can choose between a classic bleeding-heart, liberal whiner with distinct socialist overtones, or a neofascist globalist bent on world domination by Corporate America. Or for something lighter, we have a couple of independents. One is largely soy-based and fully organic. The other comes with your choice of side arms. Neither one is expected to last through the whole evening."

Little Toy Soldiers

Working for a small family business, you get to see management by impulse. I call it the Little Toy Soldiers theory of management.

"I'll put my soldiers here! No, wait, I'll put them there! I like my soldiers! Let's put some here, and some there."

The personal touch works both ways. You just have to make it work. Not every little toy general is unreasonable. But sometimes one will have a little trouble with basic arithmetic. You can't turn two people into three people just by moving them back and forth really quickly.

Most family businesses start with all the family members working like slave labor and splitting the take like brigands after a big score...or beggars after a small one. Many of them end at the point when family members are either too old or too disgusted with the life to continue it. They are not geared to pay enough of an actual staff to fulfill the functions formerly met by the family.

We seem to be at or near that juncture now. The current generation resolutely discouraged the next generation from becoming involved in the business. If something doesn't fall into place soon, the niche they occupy will be opening up to newcomers. It doesn't matter whether they are busy or not. Without business they have no income, but with it they will not have enough trained staff. Kudos to them for wanting to free their children from enslavement to the family's undernourished cash cow, but the current generation is going to have to find some new gristle to gnaw for the remainder of what would have been their productive years. The quirky creation they nurtured all these years can't continue as it is.

If they lay off staff they can't get their work done. They have to find other fat to trim. It's the age-old problem of plenty to do and no way to get paid to do it.

For this week and next, the answer from on high is to try to get two people to be three.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Changing Times, Changing Slang

You used to say, "Look up (insert characteristic here) in the dictionary and you'll find his picture." Now you say "Enter (insert characteristic here) into Google Image Search and he'll be the first thing that comes up."

I don't really know if that's true, but I said it to someone today. And if I came up with it, I know a few thousand other people already have...unless it's so lame that NO ONE will come up with it.

Preserve the Spectacular Places!

Skimming a back issue of National Geographic in which parks were featured I noticed that no one addressed the questions begged when a particular place is designated as officially much more special than others.

It's wonderful to create a sanctuary to preserve a spectacular landscape in a particular place, so future generations can enjoy it. But that really does nothing to encourage people to treat the rest of the landscape less like crap. And by creating a facility for visitors, we create a host of problems right in the spectacular place itself.

If anything, those who profit from treating the rest of the landscape like crap can point to the expensive and showy park as evidence that they really do care. While you stare in awe at the view, they can nip around back and strip mine and drill the stuffing out of the very similar landscape nearby, not designated for preservation. And in your own sprawling suburban habitat you can look up at light-polluted skies and listen to the motors and musical tastes of your million neighbors while you try to save the money to go with another millon of them to the preserved park of your choice.

Oooh. Aaaaah. Lovely. Now back on the bus! Your turn is over.

Little Baby Debtor

Most of us are born owing money. We just don't know it yet.

Some people have to face it sooner than others. A teenager might want to get a job to have some spending money. Another one might need to get a job to help contribute to family survival. Really unlucky ones might even be sold outright or worked hard in return for meager sustenance.

Down in the city, what do the homeless people ask for? Money. At its most basic level, modern human life is a constant search for money. The urban forager can collect food and clothing from other people's trash, and even build shelter from debris, but they always ask for money. I've never had one ask for food, clothing or building materials. The thing that gets them to speak to strangers is the desire to have cash.

As long as you continue to breathe, you need money, too. You pay to have a home and you pay every time you leave it. If you walk and don't go far, it might only cost you whatever you have already contributed in tax money to have a street or sidewalk. If you ride a bike you've already paid for, you can go farther on those public rights-of-way without shelling out any more. But if you drive, be ready. You must buy fuel. In many places you must pay to park. Just turning the key cost you something.

If you take a real journey, you will have to pay to spend the night at the end of each traveling day. If you pull off to sleep in your car at the side of a quiet road, the local police may tell you to move on. Your best bet is to pay for lodging.

Wow. Maybe you should just stay home and watch TV. Cable or satellite? Here's your monthly bill. The electric bill is right under it. Got Internet? Unless you're scavenging your neighbor's unsecured wireless, pay up again.

There are many ways to succeed in life, if success is simply the acquisition of funds. Survival is simply a matter of finding something someone will pay you to do. If you are concerned with the ethics and morality of your choices, that will complicate your decision. I happen to feel it's good to look at the broader implications of a life choice, but I can see many people do not. And regardless of ethics or morality, you need to consider your own safety. You can get all the other kids on the playground to chip in a nickel to see you jump off the top of the swingset, but then you have to jump off the top of the swingset. You can get the same crowd to kick in to see you eat a slug or a handful of boogers, but then you either have to eat the item in question or fake it very convincingly.

Later in life the playground daredevils grow up to be Evel Knievel or Penn and Teller, if they survive their formative years. Then, in the case of the Knievels of this world, they have to survive their adult years.

There's easy money in self destruction, though not necessarily big money. I guarantee you could find someone to pay to have sex with you before the end of the day. Find the right customer for the right act and the payoff might actually be somewhat impressive. But when the slug you contracted to consume is attached to the person from whom you took money to perform, you can't really fake it.

The obviously destructive things are easy to identify. You can then avoid them if you wish. The destructive acts that appear constructive create a much more dangerous trap.

Because we all have to live, and our daily needs mount into our weekly, monthly and yearly needs, we tumble along from paycheck to paycheck, bill to bill, trying not to end up walking the streets, asking in a low voice whether anyone might have any change on them.

Change indeed. If we could figure out how to, we might. But no one has time to look at the situation in enough detail to figure out how to correct the problems without creating worse ones or just shifting the burden to someone else.

Meanwhile, your kid's diaper needs changing. And the total cost for that operation will probably be in the neighborhood of $1.50, once you figure how much you paid for the diaper, the wipe(s), powder, any rash ointment you might need, the fuel surcharge for the shopping trip to buy them, and your time performing the service.

Just put it on his tab.