Saturday, April 29, 2006


Dear Indigna,

Pentecostalism, a Christian religious sect whose central tenet is “speaking in tongues,” claims 600 million followers worldwide. Now, consider that the population of the world is about 6.5 billion. That means fully 10% of humans on earth worship by speaking in tongues. The population of Christians worldwide is estimated at 2.1 billion. So evidently 28% of Christians attend Pentacostal churches. The CIA’s “Factbook,” however, indicates that while 33% of the world adheres to Christianity (in keeping with the above numbers), only 5.8% are Protestant, or 377 million. So, apparently, not only are all Protestants Pentecostal, but so are a goodly number of Roman Catholics, Orthodox and/or Anglicans, even though they may not know it. Are any of these statistics wrong?

True Believer
Hot Coffee, MS

Dear True,

Ttttt ttttblll llllrrrrrrrr rrrooooooo doddddo dododododdii iidiii diitttgg ggggggggde tiiiiiiidJesus fffffffffnnnnn nn MMMMM M nnnnnmpppp ptptpt ptpt ptptpt ptptptTI BITA TIBI TATIBI TATI BITAz zbzzz zzb zzbzbz bzbzz.

Team Building

Dear Indigna,

I read that as a bid to “increase sales and motivate employees,” this security company, Alarm One, pitted sales “teams” against each other. At “sales staff meetings” so-called “losing” teams were taunted, humiliated and paddled with competitors’ metal lawn signs. Why on earth would any company believe that such abuse would “build employee camaraderie”?

Team Player
Fresno, CA

Dear Team,

Oh come on, what’s a little ribbing between rivals? My team is all for such team-building exercises. For example, at random times throughout the year, and without warning, my employees will show up to work to find an elaborate “Survivor”-style challenge laid out in the parking lot. Employees who are early to work can do the challenge, while those who are just on time or late automatically lose. The challenge is usually some kind of obstacle course that offers a significant chance of serious physical injury or drowning, though sometimes it’s just a memory challenge in which I ask employees to recall details of the personal lives of employees who have been fired in the last year or two. The winner gets a free week in Maui at the Grand Wailea Resort. The losers are denounced as terrorist suspects and sent to Gitmo. It’s all in good fun, and I find that this experience builds tremendous timeliness as well as competitiveness among my team. Camaraderie, I feel, is overrated.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Dear Indigna,

I just read an item in the Washington Post that says Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has completed plans for “military operations where the United States is not at war.” According to this article, the Pentagon no longer needs “approval” from the American ambassador in the region “before conducting military operations in a foreign country.” According to sources in the know, the plan also suggests that “another [terrorist] attack [on the U.S.] could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets.” Sounds like the Rummy is just salivating for another “justification.” Should I pee my pants?

Already Did
Wetwang With Fimber, Yorkshire, England

Dear Wetwang,

You poufty Brits just don’t see the brilliance of the American military strategists. Would you rather we did all this stuff secretly, as in the Reagan Administration? No, now we openly plan to engage in covert ops without the knowledge or consent of the Congress, the people, or even the Ambassador of the country to which we are dispatching black helicopters to engage in “extraordinary rendition,” targeted assassination, and/or dropping bombs on weddings, as well as other tasty treats from the “menu of options for the military,” which will be handed to you as you enter the Pentagon lunchroom.

As for the question of "justification," that's just psy-ops for the public.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Rewards of Awards

Dear Indigna,

This year the state of California named a record number of schools to the list of “California Distinguished Schools.” Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t California public schools rank, like, 46th in the nation? How can any of them possibly deserve awards? Do the people of California somehow think handing out “awards” will magically make the schools better?

I Smell a Scam
Truckee, CA

Dear Smell,

What, are you kidding me? You must have an Arizona (#50) public school education if you don’t see how this works.

Obviously, the primary function and objective of public schools is to cadge as much lucre from governmental coffers as humanly possible. The way you do that is to have lots and lots of students. When a school gets to put up a “Distinguished School” plaque in its entryway or office, parents naturally assume that guarantees that the school is top-notch. They not only enroll their current children in said institution, but are encouraged and even hounded to produce as many more offspring as they can, enrolling each in turn. The goal is to squeeze as many students as possible into each classroom. Most school districts are hence abandoning the use of space-wasters like “desks” and “chairs,” preferring to have students stand; that way you get the maximum usage out of your square footage.

This influx of students leads to business development in the surrounding area: day care centers, fast food outlets, convenience stores, hospitals, mental health centers and prisons. These new businesses increase the school’s revenue stream through property and sales taxes, enabling schools to hire consultants to figure out more innovative ways to optimize space and child management without having to build more classrooms or hire more teachers. Most schools have discovered that eliminating the “lunch period” results, within just a few weeks, in a dramatic increase in the number of children who will fit into a square foot.

The ultimate goal is, duh!, to have every one of the thousands and thousands of California public schools on the list, which will then be presented to the people who do the rankings as evidence that the Golden State should be #1. I defy anyone to find another state in which every single public school has won a “Distinguished School” Award!


Dear Indigna,

The Supreme Court has ruled that “units of government” smaller than states, such as counties and cities, do not share the immunity from lawsuits granted to states and the federal government in the Constitution. Doesn’t this seem kind of unfair?

Losing Appellate
Chatham County, GA

Dear Loser,

Not at all. It’s all part of the Bush Administration’s “top-down” management and responsibility structure. The higher in an organization--Enron, say, or the federal government--a player is, the less responsibility they have to take for their actions. Instead, consequences for bad behavior or knuckle-headed decisions are pushed from the “top” “down” to the lowest chump they can get the punishment to stick to. In this case, states and even the federal government cannot be sued, so any nitpicky little problems you “citizens” want to whine about (oooh, the big bad drawbridge crushed your car, wah wah wah) will have to be dealt with and paid for by the counties or cities in which they occur, no matter how much of a federal case you want to make of it! Donald Rumsfeld is a master at this style of management. A textbook example is his making a pregnant, slow-witted 20-year-old private take the blame for Abu Ghraib.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Terrorist Split

Dear Indigna,

There is speculation that Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahri may have separated. True?

Mildly Intrigued
Dinosaur, CO

Dear Mild,

It is true; I understand that Ayman has moved out of Osama’s cave, although apparently no legal filings have been made. It’s possible that it’s just an unusually heated argument or it may be something more serious. There are rumors that Osama, who has traditionally played the husband’s role in their same-sex union, is jealous of Ayman’s increasing visibility and outspokenness, and feels his “wife’s” career is threatening to eclipse his own. A lot of these famous guys just can’t handle that. For the time being, let’s respect them and give them privacy to try to work things out for themselves. If and when they do file for divorce, I’m sure we will be the first to know. You just can’t keep a lid on a juicy celebrity split.