Tuesday, May 29, 2012

By The Books

One of my favorite 1960s sitcoms was GET SMART---a comedy along the line of the "James Bond infuence" type of TV shows.
However, unlike THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. or I SPY or THE WILD WILD WEST it was a parody of the genre.

Among my favorite segments among the many episodes are those involving "the code of silence", a huge plastic dome which was lowered onto Max and the Chief (of C.O.N.T.R.O.L., the spy agency they worked for) whenever they needed to discuss anything either "top secret" or of a "sensitive" nature, which had the worst acoustics imaginable---no-one could hardly hear what the other was saying and they wound up shouting everything they were saying at the top of their lungs so the other could hear...defeating the purpose of the cone, naturally.

I remember, in one episode, Max and the Chief had to discuss something of vital importance and Max asks the Chief: "This IS 'top secret' isn't it?" The Chief responds: "Well, yes it is." "Then shouldn't we use 'the cone of silence'?" "Do we really HAVE to?" "You know the rules...reguation #**** states 'When discussing matters that are top secret the cone-of-silence shall always be on'..." "I know all about the rules, Max." "Well, shouldn't we activate it then?" "Max, must you ALWAYS follow the rules?" "It says in the code book, page **, paragraph *: 'All rules must be followed at all times'." "Alright...Agent **" "Yes, chief?" "Activate the 'cone of silence'." "Yes, Chief."

What was most amusing about the "cone of silence" segments was it's subtle underlying bashing of bureaucracism-in-general.  Whether mocking the absolutist "things-can-only-be-done-one-way" stipulations or the "one-size-fits-all" style broad-based definitions so ambiguious they could fit any one of a thousand scenarios or factors.

...And quite fitting as a metaphor for real-life situations they are:
---Like the way MEDICARE and MEDICAID will cover the cost of a lot of major operations, some costing along the lines of $30,000 to $40,000...yet they still refuse to cover the cost of certain dental procedures, like for example: a restorative crown for a tooth on which a root canal was performed which would prevent the now-fragile tooth from fracturing from the pressures of chewing---the cost: $400 to $500.
---And what about the "three strikes and you're out" laws?  Anyone who's been convicted of two felonies or more face a mandatory life sentence if arrested again for any reason.  So, this person gets a traffic ticket and fails to pay it---an arrest warrant is issued for them...they get picked up and jailed...and: VOILA! life in the penitentiary on account of a $150 fine.  Trash a person's life over $150? ("Max, must you ALWAYS follow the rules?")
---And when filling out forms for subsidized housing they ask all sorts of "one-size-fits-all" type of questions.
Among them: asking about e-mail addresses; cell phone numbers; questions about property investments and certificate-of-deposits and IRAs.
I mean I understand some people who were doing okay in life might suddenly find themselves in dire straights, but still...I'm sure the majority of those in need of "housing assistance", in all probability are those who most likely can't afford such social perks as cell phones and a lot of such people might not even have a computer or any extra money tucked away somewhere.
I mean, isn't the idea of being "hard-up" the notion that there are certain people for whom life didn't turn out "normally" or "properly"?  That most things in their lives usually happened "weird"---and THAT'S why they haven't quite been successful at achieving a lot of the things most people come by easily without half-trying?...and why they also need help with just living as well?

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