As the State Turns

By Johnny Beaver

stateturnssymbol2000 Gallons of Smooth, Creamy Diesel

Remember all of that brouhaha about oil tankers and choo choo trains from a while back? Whelp, it looks like a piece of railroad track managed to puncture a locomotive’s fuel tank in Bend. AND INVESTIGATORS THINK IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN SABOTAGED.

Excuse the caps lock… there are only so many tools to create a proper dun dun DUN!!!moment in text. Anyhow, as the train was moving along at about 25mph, whistlin’ dixie no doubt, the diesel fuel spilled out like a thing that was being spilled. The crew reported feeling the impact of the track piece as it tore the bottom of the tank, though apparently you can’t stop a train on a dime. Thankfully there were no injuries and a cleanup project got going immediately. The rail line was shut down for only about an hour and a half.

Though there are no reports of suspects or anything intriguing like that (yet), Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas has indicated that there seems to be no natural way for a section of track to have found itself in that position, and that it was definitely not from a nearby area of the rail line.

Oregon National Guard Aids NORAD…

…in tracking Santa Claus.

I’m going to have to go ahead and call bullsh*t.

Cougar Party

Awwww, yeah. It’s cougar hunting time. No, no, it’s not mom’s weekend at Oregon State, I mean it’s time to test your mettle by taking out a few of the pacific northwest’s big cats. The zone mortality quota (one of my favorite terms, ever) for cougars is expanding a whopping 25 percent come January 1st.  So what spawned this change?

You see, back in the 1960’s the Oregon Department of fish and Wildlife reported that the cougar population of Oregon had fallen to just about 200, citing bounty hunting as the cause. They were then reclassified as game, and later in 1994 the step to outlaw hunting them with dogs was passed as a further protection. Personally, I think this was an unfair move, as cougars have body armor, lasers and can fly certainly putting hunters at an insurmountable disadvantage.

Either way, the population has rebounded to 6,000, causing an increase in cougars taking two in the chest and one in the head as a result of danger to people, pets, livestock and apparently SUVs, trucks, subcompacts, mid-sized sedans and your occasional moped (maybe not that last one). Additionally, the extra cougar population has been ripping off hunters by dipping into the natural stores of elk and deer.

In all fairness, kill quotas are designed to help a species fill its habitat and remain successful without overflowing it and causing problems for the humans that put them in this situation in the first place. The quota of 777 put into place back in 2006 has seen the overall population grow by 9 percent since, so the a new quota of 970 was voted in.

One issue brought up by concerned parties is this: what use is the quota system if it isn’t being met? In 2014, less than half of the cougar killin’ quota was completed. I think the solution is obvious, of course.

Grenade launchers.

The Health Care Penalty Blues

If you’re like me, you’ve got not way to secure health coverage in time for this year’s Taxstravaganza, and that means fees! So if you’re just scraping by and can’t meet the income-based exemption that states the lowest-priced coverage available to you would cost more than 8% of your household income because of, you know, groceries and stuff, what exactly do you have to look forward to?

$95 or 1 percent, whichever is higher. That’s what.

My wife and I live on about $18,000 a year right now as we try to get through school, which could earn us up to a $180 fee. Next year it goes up to 2% of the household income or $325. And after that? The sky is the limit, kid. Look, I know that thus far it looks like these fees are designed to viciously bone certain households with unemployed adults or low income to expense ratios (hey, the less you make, the harder 1 percent hits), but I’m sure it’s all just a clever ruse. One of these days, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Barack Obama and the whole gang are all going to jump out of a birthday cake and implement an actual socialized health care system. You know, like the fancy one in Germany that like, takes care of people efficiently and without putting them into debt, and stuff. Ever heard of a $50 surgery?

But I digress (as I often do). After looking at the health care plans available to me, I think I can probably make it until 2019 before it starts being cheaper to actually get the coverage, and by then I’ll either have graduated and gotten a decent plan, or moved into a cardboard box. That’s just the cost of freedom.

Still, I’m very much thankful for the good that I believe the Affordable Care Act has brought to the table, even the horribly mangled version we got as a result of squeezing it through the social conservative play’doh machine. I guess this is just one of those cracks they always talk about people slipping through. It smells like fingernails and sadness.

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