Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The artifical intelligence of contractual reality

One day after Donald Seither's mobile home was ripped up by Hurricane Charley, the 74-year-old retiree picked up a friend's phone and pleaded for federal aid.

Technically, he got it. But mostly, he got ticked off.

Seeking the government's help, the Punta Gorda resident -- after being put on hold for two hours -- got through to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and told his tale: a damaged roof, shattered windows, no electricity.

About a week later, a check from the U.S. Treasury came in the mail.

Here, Seither figured, was the hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars, he and his wife would need to help rebuild their lives.

Then he opened the envelope and read the fine print. The check's value: $1.69. Miami Herald


So, I'm living in my van. The intelligence of which prompted this from Trish, one of my mordant correspondents:

Poor Tom!

So now you are "van trash" or perhaps, if alliteration is de rigueur, van vomit? van vermin? van victim? Do you expect to be under roof again soon?
Thanks, Trish -- really. Almost broke the library's glass doors and my gut when I read it. (I resort to the library for bandwidth now that MCI's brilliant mobile unit has departed).

Call me Vanna Whiteguy, tutelary spirit of the downwardly mobile USian middle class.


Learjet Dumbshow

(Lumberjacks dance as chimpmunks scream:)
Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad,
the tadpole, the wall-newt and the water; that in
the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages,
eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat and
the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the
standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
tithing, and stock- punished, and imprisoned; who
hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his
body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear;
But mice and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.


The New York Times:
As the insurance companies see it, if people are underinsured it is primarily their own fault.
We signed on to be publicly gangraped by corporate America before corporate America even existed. This occurred when the Federalists, led by Hamilton & co., wormed the doctrine of the sacredness of contracts into the Constitution.

Contracts, as divine objects, must be honored, we are told. But do insurers honor them when they modify existing wording so that the promise once held forth no longer exists? When their lawyers find 10 additional dimensions of spacetime inside words like "of" and "is"?

Contracts have deflated the spirit of the US -- thanks to their executional and evacuatory powers, we no longer have even the memory of community. "The law will protect me. I have it here in writing," we say, like the shameful, cubicled breed of spineless slugs we de facto et de jure are. If you have a contract with a corporation, that corporation has a Calvinized contract out on you. You'll get exactly what you deserve.


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