George Washington’s teeth

New Zealand has placed orders for about 1,300 square feet of human skin. I swear I did not make that up. It’s enough to carpet my apartment and stop by to visit with the neighbors, bearing leftovers. Beautiful day, stranger. It’s more or less enough to refloor my parents’ house, WITH HUMAN SKIN.

New Zealand was very recently the site of a gruesome natural disaster, a violent volcanic eruption on White Island, or, as they call it around 80th and Lex, Tuesday afternoon. That is to say that they didn’t place the orders for the lulz. They need graft material. They have medical reasons. In New Zealand, an English-speaking country, the technical term is me dickle raisins. Those sound like a delicious chutney for me Invercargill mince pie; stop by if you have a minute to see if they’ve got any next to the hot case at the Cal-Tex.

I understand there’s a book with these recipes. It’s a cookbook.

Mind you, New Zealand has world-class medical care. It’s the beast cone tray with the beast sex hose peedles, a great place for Dr. Nassar to practice veterinary medicine until they catch him at it.

Nah, I’m just back on my shitposting. It’s for real a better place to seek medical care than the United States. A nurse in Queenstown told me that Invercargill is a better place to get mince pies, too, with a look on her face implying that there’s something just a touch wrong with the locals wicked south.

Granted, this is the kind of skin order that could be rolled up and dropped off at a shady Armenian’s rug warehouse in Glendale, but the problem here isn’t with its destination. The cause for concern is the origin. The provenance is questionable. This is America. Our actual history with medical ethics is worth a read. As Faulkner said, the past isn’t forgotten; it isn’t even past.

Remember a few years ago, when there was a minor international hubbub over the shipment of human organs from China and the implications about their sourcing? Observers were looking at this impressive supply of sometimes surprisingly healthy organs, cross-referencing them with the mainland Chinese judicial system, and, to their gathering horror, connecting the dots to what they call high-impact lead poisoning in certain ethnic neighborhoods back east. We might say that China is a different east. Fly there, but maybe not so much to the southern part, on Northwest Orient. RIP. Delta did us dirty by buying and repainting that venerated big metal. Of course there are worse places to fly than Atlanta: say, a dawn charter, ground transportation included, out of the private terminal at Ngurah Rai to Cilacap.

The Chinese are surely still up to these tricks. This is the same country with a strong enough market for ivory and ground-up tiger balls and that kind of thing to get Joseph Kony into the elephant poaching business. There have been questions about China’s export pharmaceuticals and baby formula.

That’s an odd nation to maintain a relatively low incarceration rate. Sure enough, though, it does. All we have to do is compare it to the American rate. We’re the world champions. For a while we had, like, the fucking Seychelles or some shit beating us due to a passing political crackdown, but I’m pretty sure that ended.

We all know that medical care in our prisons is top-notch. Prison is a great place to go to get hale, happy, whole, and well. They say so on Fox News, right? Some poor schmuck on the outside has to pay through the nose and wait, and meanwhile it’s free at the point of care in the clink. At the very least, Chad Kroeger insinuates that he spent some time on the inside, and he looks great.

We can consequently rest assured that the American authorities, at all levels of government, are not harvesting skin from prisoners they have neglected to death or murdered, did not conduct syphilis experiments on black airmen at Tuskegee, and did not test chemical or biological weapons from the top of the Pruitt-Igoe Towers. None of this happens in America. You get food to eat.

Again, the Kiwis are not the problem here. You go to the operating room with the ethically sourced grafts you have, not the ethically sourced grafts you’d like. You may notice one word in the last sentence that’s doing the Pareto power player lifting. As an erstwhile Turkish drinking buddy said, “Why don’t we put it back in the dumpster? Too much ethics!” He said this in the course of his studies (sic), as a speaker of English (sic), towards his master’s degree (sic) in business (sic). He’s officially more educated than I am; read it and puke. If you’re practicing medicine, emphasis on practice, at San Francisco General, the other thing you take with you into the operating room is your own stumbling drunk ass: that is, unless a woman in the waiting room goes full Bear Flag Republic mama grizzly on it, and on you, and threatens to call the Medical Board the moment you cross the threshold.

The beast me dickle in a pickle system: we’ve got that, too. The reasons to be alarmed that this shambolic, bumptious country functions as the world’s strategic skin reserve go well and far (heh) beyond the strictly ethical. Can we, or anybody else, have trust and confidence in the safety and reliability of our blood and tissue supplies? Our surgical or dental equipment? Much of anything that we still manufacture? Boeing has manufactured over 400 units of the 737 Max since the Ethiopian crash, playing chicken with every civil aviation authority under the skies, and isn’t done shipping these fine ships into storage yet. This is how a corporation renowned for decades as one of the All-American best is making its manufacturing and business decisions. We’re gonna spend another month hammering these bad boys together and flying them to the Sonora Desert and then, uh, uh, yeah. That’s it! We’ll shut the assembly line down THEN, to save money! The federal executive and a federal legislative majority are perfectly happy to smugly shut the government down until air traffic controllers reach their wit’s end and shut down La Guardia for leverage. At that point, the brain geniouses in Washington soil their diapers anew, freshly (or not so freshly) scandalized and shocked that mere workers have such power over them, their masters.

Medical care in the US in general is frankly terrible. The only reason this isn’t universally understood domestically, as it increasingly is abroad, is propaganda. We advertise fucking cardiac surgery at base hospitals in cities of 30,000. Fucking St. Joseph’s runs ads on Cool 105 and shit. Do you REALLY not want to be medevacked to San Fran for that? Because you Van Morrison-ass heard it on the radio, on the radio? On top of the ads, we have decades’ worth of spurious, bad-faith, flagrantly apples-and-oranges comparisons of, like, Johns Hopkins or the Cleveland Clinic to random Soviet-era base hospitals in Murmansk or Krakow or Leipzig that in point of fact usually provided world-class care, without the Hershey advertising budget and without cherrypicking their patient pools for better outcomes and the aggrandizing US News and World Report-ass statistics these skimmables yield. #TeshTips: They’re lying to you. It’s Powell Memo praxis all the way down.

We call this conservatism.

Again, medicine is just one critical sphere where this manifests. Are our feedlots and slaughterhouses clean? Lol. Somebody shits in a Salinas lettuce field instead of taking unpaid time off to hit the crapper, and a week later an unsuspecting grandma in Boise or Holdrege dies of E. coli.

This is definitely where the world should source its skin grafts, the world-leading exporter of mercenary blood. Go down to the near eastside of Reno, over by the rescue missions, if you’ve got some to spare and a local ID. It’s a real healthy donor pool in that part of town, all lining up for the cash money. As they say on the Penny Hoarder, we’ve all done these things to make rent. “We?” “All?” Who the fuck is “us?” This sounds like the kind of shit that would go down in a bad part of Manila, selling blood on the open market until it’s a higher aggregate-value export than soy or corn. Yeah, we’ve got some rice, we’ve got some pork, we’ve got some cassava and taro, we’ve got some usable veins.

Christ. The chilling theodicial banality of it: hey, we all gotta do what we gotta do to get by. Times are tough, so you gotta hustle. Look, I have no moral objections to $20 blow-n-go by the UP mainline. The, uh, scenery is prettier a thousand miles to the east, up on Moon River, but I’m not the one down on the low track paying for any of that. Thing is, this shit is not about public morals; it’s about public health. Blood-farming the indigent for the export market in neighborhoods with prevalent ill health and disease is an international public health threat. There was a minor moral panic of sorts maybe twenty years ago about the United States having to import blood from Switzerland, complete with news footage of a Swiss A330 on short final. Cool. Pretty airplane. That story increased my trust in the blood supply. What we’re doing these days is legit scary.

This is not the behavior of a confident, capable society. These are the death throes of a failing empire. We’re over here bragging about how we’re the best in the world, and meanwhile we’re tripping all over ourselves to excuse 95% safety and reliability in critical operations, or 90%, or, shucks, 75%. Boeing wanted to reassure the flying public that the Max was 99+% safe. That must be comforting for passengers on the other 1%. Recall that the FAA was the last civil aviation authority of any significance to ground the Max. We measurably, manifestly fell behind Ethiopia on safety standards. I’m not trying to be PC here; we fell behind fucking Indonesia. We did this deliberately, to curry favor with a once-trailblazing aerospace manufacturer that was being run headlong into the ground. Who’s us here? Hey, our government did that, in our name.

Radio Free Tom Nichols was just on World Affairs to bitch to Ray Suarez about how everybody back home in Chicopee has turned into an obese opioid addict stuffing his face with Big Macs while demanding that the government save him from himself. I couldn’t help myself. I had to listen to the whole broadcast once it came on. He veered into moral and mental clarity from time to time, but hearing from him about the death of expertise was reminiscent of Larry Craig’s bitter complaints about the death of chastity.

This is a guy who traffics stereotypes so habitually and thoughtlessly that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and doesn’t care. He stirred up a shitstorm on the D-List post-or-die left by declaring that Indian food sucks, period. I really didn’t care, and I still don’t. I’ll eat his goat curry if he won’t; I’ll even eat Her Majesty’s leftover chicken tikka masala, and that’s something that the best chefs can fuck up by not using potato cubes instead. It turns out that this woke-v.-broke horseshit was, in fact, significant. Radio Free Tom broadbrushes all sorts of things, most of them higher-stakes than not eating his bowl of Jaipur karhi. He’s every bit as shallow and coarse about industrial policy.

What we’ve got here is a contemptuous social climber cum know-it-all blowhard. It sounds bad when I phrase it that way, but Tom’s pretty modest and decent by the prevailing community standards in the philosophical wreckage that passes for his set’s idea of a community. Think about who socializes with people who in any professional capacity know Ray Suarez. As they say around Independence Mall, it’s kinda gross, Terry. Dealing with people who are peripheral or orthogonal to the truly bad actors of the Acela Corridor is revealing, provided we have some idea of how to extrapolate from those who don’t make us barf into those who do: the lanyard losers, the think tank creeps, the bigshot talking heads, the professional right-wing provocateurs walking around with shit-eating grins, the Congressmen, the lobbyists.

Being around that human mess for decades without current points of references in the real world has to have a distorting effect on one’s understanding of how America runs under the hood. If we’re claiming that a revolt against expertise cost Hillary the election and elevated the Donald all the way to the top, we might want to explain what in the hell kind of expertise it was that made it impossible for Her professional political nerds to miss the evidence that she was widely reviled in a whole bunch of swing states, or that her opponent was campaigning on some planks that were extremely attractive in the same parts of the country. That’s like if I said, oh, grapes? Yeah, that grows on, like, a tree or a bush or some shit, I dunno, you asked, go fuck yourself.

This class is completely unwilling to imagine that there are large numbers of their fellow citizens who take pride in plying what they consider lowly trades, seek to keep plying their own trades, and do not wish to see their industries consigned exclusively to Dhaka or Phnom Penh. They aren’t content just to be idiots; they insist on being loudmouthed, belligerent idiots.

I’m not even annoyed at Radio Free Tom in this case; for the most part I’m just cheaply entertained. There is, however, something surreally arrogant about this prick from the Naval War College being platformed on state radio to spend his portion of a fifty-minute hour sniveling about how the ordinary taxpayers contributing to the national treasury that helps pay for his frequent appearances are unfit for self-government. It’s a bizarre own goal for a sworn expert who presumably takes pride in being a communicator, a debater, a presenter of arguments.

It’s a bewildering mess of the mind, but one thing that stands out about it is the profound, dripping ingratitude. Who does Radio think does the real, tangible, physical work that keeps him alive and comfortable? Who do any of his peers think does that? Fellow talking heads?

We’re going out on a limb to assume that they think at all. This is too petty for their thoughts, too pedestrian, too crass. Giving thanks would prick their bubbles.

Somebody has to sow, tend, harvest, process, sell, and cook their food. Somebody has to keep their water supply clean and reliable 24/7. Somebody has to pave their streets, drive their Ubers, and, if they’re so down-to-earth, maintain their Metro system. (I assume we all know which one.) Somebody has to fly, maintain, navigate, and direct their planes. Somebody has to clean their bathrooms and cut their grass. Acela doesn’t drive, dispatch, track, or highball itself.

This is why they hate air traffic controllers. They don’t do any of this shit for themselves. Most of it is credibly menial and unskilled work: like, who gives a shit, we aren’t out of Guatemalans. Air traffic control is so obviously so highly skilled and critical, no matter how boring or rote, that even our worst useless eaters aren’t sheltered or deranged enough to pretend that it isn’t. So they misdirect: Oh, they’re just extorting Congress. They’re just bitter that they never landed the good gigs on the Hill. That’s why they demand to be compensated. We should come up with a computer program to replace them. No, I don’t know how to reboot my computer when I virus-crash it on dicey porn sites.

Huh. Having other people do the work and then complaining that they are too demanding and uppity sounds, uh, maybe a touch familiar from points south, and in some cases north, of Gettysburg. I can’t imagine there’s a rapid transit station in Ole Virginny rhyming with Darlington Flemetarry where a rising Union-turned-Confederate army officer got violent with the help before violently getting his men’s asses kicked and then going hat in hand over fly to a place that doesn’t possibly rhyme with Fappomattox Short Blouse and son they took the farm, you know, blood on the scarecrow, blood under the plow.

*Freshly resalted General Sherman voice* Sick burn, kid. Say, to stray a bit off-topic and a lazy afternoon’s float down the river–same damn bank; mercy, Mr. Davis!–, there’s a strain of impertinent Yankee thot holding (giggity*) (*your affiant needs sleep) that certain, shall we say, recently unpleasant cultural practices stymied innovation and held Dixie back. That sounds impossible. He went to Protestant confession for whacking the cherry tree, right? It’s in all the books, books from a time before plagiarism. He owned people and stuff, but they all did. How could he mistreat them?

They teach us about his modest suckface limp upper lip. They teach us about his dentures. They do not teach us that George had a tooth bank.

Even the ladies and gentlemen knew in their hearts the proper thing to call this tooth bank:

People.

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