Sunday, July 27, 2008

An Opinion You Can Rely On

The truth is there are a lot of blogs out there (I tried to find out just how many, but my Googling shows that apparently people stopped counting in 2005, so I can't give you that ancient information), but you have chosen to read this one; I have an explanation.

Life is hard and it can be confusing. It makes you feel good when someone will tell you like it is with all the confidence in the world. It can be soothing to know that it only takes one hypothesis to explain all of the world's ills. Thinking for yourself so often leads to frustration and inconclusive results. You might wonder about a topic, and even research it, only to find that there are two experts who will both tell you that the opposite is true. Is there a way out?

Absolutely. The service I offer is that my opinions are objective fact. When most people have opinions they are subjective, which means they could be wrong or they could be right. When Joe Whoever writes a movie review he might be right about the film, but it is equally possible that he is full of crap. And that's because it is just his opinion; your opinion and $3.71 can get you a decent cup of Starbuck, but that's about it. Now it's fine if you want to listen to someone like that, and up until this point you haven't had a choice, but now there is me. When I offer my opinion, what I am actually doing is describing the world as it actually is, that is why my opinion is so reliable. I'm not describing it as you would like it to be, or as I would like it to be, but how it actually is.

Because I have ensured that my opinions are the truth, if I watch a movie and say that it isn't funny, you don't have to wonder. If I say that clearly Iran is going to blow up Israel with a nuclear weapon, what is there to wonder about? For some reason God has blessed me with objective opinions, and I feel it is my duty to help you by sharing this blessing with you.

Now I know that, amazingly, this gift can actually be a bit dull. There is no room for debate and argumentation when you know that you are right, so I don't have to interact with or listen to others, but you get used to it after awhile. But the trade off is that you can get the truth and so therefore you can shut the door and never again have to think about the thing that I set you straight on.

So if you ever have a gray area in your life that needs clarification please feel free to look me up for help. My name is Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Randi Rhodes. The Religious Right, the Religious Left. I also go by Talk Radio in General, Teenagers and Rigid Thinkers. You might also know me as Curmudgeon, Ideologue and Dogmatic.

In short my name is God, for I know all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It Isn't True That There is Nothing to Fear

I have an irrational fear of death.

I’m always playing out my very imminent and sudden death in my mind. Frequently I see the cold steal of a blade being thrust into my belly as I stare into the cold dead eyes of someone I thought was a friend. I constantly envision the top of my skull being torn off by a stray bullet. I look down to see a hole explode out of my stomach, the hole being an exit wound from the shotgun blast that came from the guy in the trench coat I just passed on the street. Perhaps this is all a bit morbid, but it’s all very matter-of-fact to my mind. Often I wait for the tiny meteoroid to cleanly puncture my windshield and imbed itself in my liver. I wonder when the earthquake hits where will I be, and how will it cause the house or bus or whatever structure I’m in to collapse in such a way as to pop my skull like an overripe melon?

I don’t think that I’m overly afraid, I don’t alter my schedule or refrain from risks because of this fear, but it is constant. I used to worry that I would spontaneously, involuntarily crawl over the fence that was in between me and the water, ravine, lion or cliff on the other side. I don’t know why I don’t worry about that one as much anymore, because it’s pretty freaky, isn’t it? Picture yourself standing in front of the grizzly bear pit at your local zoo. You’re smiling and pointing, and suddenly your hand is clasping the railing as you pull your leg up to the lower bar. You go weak in your legs and brain as you struggle fruitlessly at the inexorable drive towards the bears. It could happen. You’ve got to figure that everything has happened at least once, and if it’s happened once that means it could happen again.

Water tank explosion. Gas leak. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Sibling you didn’t know was crazy but decides to show you at the Thanksgiving get together. Car accident, car accident, car accident. Prevalence of rare and devastating diseases, but so many that you figure at least one of them will hit like a handful of pebbles that someone hurled at you. Bear attack. Random knifing. Stroke. Involuntary/accidental suicide (which is very similar to climbing over the railing, but I think you’ll agree there is a qualitative difference). Armageddon hits and I find myself in a complete absence of potable water. Death by starvation. What if we run out of clean air?

The only interesting part about all of this is that I don’t think that’s interesting at all. My daily routine consists of a present but distant anxiety about the onset of sudden, particularly painful, death. What I would find interesting is someone who doesn’t have this fear. If you’re not worried about random tragedy then my hat’s off to you, though probably all you’ve done is repressed these feelings so deeply that it’s causing havoc and wreckage in other areas of your life, so you might want to look into that.

I guess the scariest part about this whole thing is that God seems to possess a great sense of irony, and I can’t imagine a greater irony than my random and bizarre death shortly after penning this discourse. In the short term it is personally tragic, but in view of eternity it’s pretty goddamn funny.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Thoughtlessness of Strangers

Throwing a dog through a closed window cannot be a pleasant thing to see, and it's a much less pleasant thing to do.

But as long as I'm reading my Malcolm X correctly, and I believe I am, then we know that sometimes things need to be accomplished by any means necessary. If I had it to do all over again, would I throw my dog crashing through a window a second time? That is a question only God can answer; I don't think I can muster an objective response.

It was a hot day and we have a pool. I got home and I was pouring with sweat the way a basketball player would be if he had played three quarters in a wet suit. As I stumbled up the stairs I noticed to my greatest glee that no one was in the pool. It is true that we have a pool, but my homeowner contract stipulates that I own and have to share it equally with all of other people who live in my condo complex. After today's events that may need to be reevaluated.

I went inside and changed into my swimming attire in what could have been no more than 30 to 45 seconds. Right before I bounded out the door I took a look through my window and there he was. Obnoxious and evident, white and lotioned, the blob of a man dove headlong into the pool, and also simultaneously, unwittingly into my judgment.

The thing is that I like to swim alone. It really is just that. It isn't that I fear I would look gay if he and I were swimming, alone, in the pool, together (though we would, but that's not why). It's not that I worry about him having any waterborne illnesses or infections that I might catch were I to be in the pool with him, mostly naked (though it's possible). I suppose I just enjoy the peace and tranquility that exists when I'm in a pool by myself.

And he ruined it.

He was floating on his back when Gretel came hurtling towards him. She landed a few feet away from him, and he looked up to see what had happened. I stood just beyond the mutilated window, cape flapping in the sudden breeze now in my home (I had slipped it on for effect and he seemed to recoil as his eyes fell upon it). I held out a closed fist, let it hover for a pregnant moment, then thrust my thumb down. I wasn't sure what I meant by that, but I was hoping it was ominous enough to scare him. Not quite. He just kind of stared me down; I stood there feeling chumpish and turned a slight red. He began to breaststroke and I retrieved a few cans of corn from the pantry. I fired them with laser precision a few feet to his right and left. He got the message. As he pulled his ample frame from the pool I saluted him, but it was just sarcastic enough that I think he got the irony of it.

Though I had achieved what I wanted I was too flustered to take a dip. Insolence sometimes has that effect on me. Gretel wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the night, she acted like she couldn't even see me. That was only half her fault because she was missing an eye. I couldn't confirm if she had lost it because of me throwing her through the window, or if it had somehow been lost in the intervening minutes that she took to come back to the apartment, so I just called it a wash and forgave her for ignoring me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anymore and I'll Gore Myself

Read it and weep.

It does make me weep. Weep until the tears are blood because I've exhausted the regular tear material (I heard your tears turn to blood if you cry too much—someone Wikipedia that to see if it's true). I do not wish to make a political point, I'll try as much as I can on this blog to stay away from political points. But I do wish to make a point that has a direct correspondence with reality, if you don't mind.

Why is Gore's claim a noble one? It is tantamount to the ravings of a street person, whom you and I politely ignore as we pass him on the street. I object to Gore's statement on the grounds of possibility—we are 100 years and trillions of dollars entrenched in an oil based infrastructure. Even if that needs to change, it will take a shite-sight longer than 10 years, and Al Gore knows that. But he's bold, challenging and enlightened, a wannabe JFK by his own admission.

Look, should I be mad at a guy who walks up and hands me a handful of his own crap that he says is gold? No, but neither should he receive international acclaim. Should I slight the guy who says he's thirsty because he just got in from Jupiter and it's a hell of a flight? Again, no, but I would be afraid if my country put a medal around his neck, fed him a steak dinner, and asked him with a straight face if he saw any Jupitairians.

At this point people will say, "He's trying to make a point, that we need to switch to renewable resources," and for that you admire him. Look, if you really wanted to help, wouldn't you suggest something practical? Do parents go to their 5-year-olds and say, "In ten years I want you to know calculus. Five years after that I want you to have a patent that will ensure your mother and I's happy early retirement." Would that be nice? Well, sure, but to put that kind of pressure on a kid is cruel.

Oh hell, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em: Right now I challenge the United States of America to cure world hunger, governmental oppression, war and racism in seven and a half years. If you need any tips, let me know.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Sum of All Fear

The human language, by that I mean English, is quite a complicated thing. It turns out that we have some 300,000 words, and if you took time to calculate all of the possible combinations of the sum of those words then you would realize that we still have at least another decade of possible books to be written. We've had a good run, but things appear to be winding down. And it's actually sort of an interesting thing to think about: Right now our government is scrambling to ensure that we have enough oil to swim in (if that's what we want to do with it), but what will they do when we start to run out of books? When you add up the total of print media that is distributed in this country it tumbles over into the billions per year, no small chunk of our economy.

Will they commission the inventing of thousands of more words, thus ensuring that there are enough word combinations to be able to say new things for decades to come? Another element that plays a small but key role in the creation of sentences that compose books, blogs and magazines is the human resource that is creativity. Today we also find that in short supply, what will the government do about that? What has George Bush and his criminally inept administration done to forestall this inevitable catastrophe? Have you heard about any studies being commissioned, any national days of prayer declared to help stave off the end of new books as we know it?

The other day Jess and I were talking and all of a sudden she was speaking the third act of King Lear, which she hasn't even read, and I just thought, "Oh God, it's happening." Once the combinations have been exhausted then we will only have what has already been uttered, and as you can see, it is already starting to become reality. Two weeks ago I was talking to my mother about the relative merits of owning gold, and from nowhere I began paraphrasing large chunks of Freud's Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious and I dropped to one knee and just began to weep. Word exhaustion is real, inevitable, and, by definition, vapid, for no one likes a copycat.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Infected Reason

I just want to make sure that's we're all on the same page. The problem is that so often we assume that we're all on the same page, but we're really not. And it can be embarrassing, and uncomfortable, when it occurs to you a little while into the conversation that you're not. You're a little too far in, and you don't want to say anything.

Things need to be stated up front. To that end, today's truth is this: Any point of view can sound convincing.

Have you noticed this? The flaming 9/11 truther's can fire off so many half-truths and pseudo facts that you might just believe them if they say you weren't really born. There are real people on this earth who have jobs who believe that the earth is flat. There are people who are still pushing, fervently, for impeachment, as if that were even on the same planet as possible. All beliefs are not created equal, and these beliefs are not as valid as believing that the US went through a civil war or that man walked on the moon. But if you give them enough time, they'll make you second guess that assertion.

There really is no such thing as, "An intelligent person can't believe that." I'm sorry, there is just more to it than that. We have to confess to the fact that we're not Vulcans, that we do not utilize our faculty for logic as our only path to figuring things out. Our emotions and intuitions intermingle and sometimes sway over our reason. We have stunning irrationalities that permeate our day to day life so much so that they're predictable. Furthermore, ungrounded logic in so many ways is useless; give it enough time and it folds in on itself. Take any fact, reason upon it for long enough, do enough linguistic gymnastics and speculation and it will mean whatever you want it to mean.

Don't believe me? That's fine, but you have to believe Simon and Garfunkle: "A man hears what he want to hear and disregards the rest." Don't believe them? That's fine, but you have to believe God: "The heart is deceitful about all things, who can know it?" Don't believe God? That's fine, but you've got to believe Anais Nin: "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."

The point is that if you hear something that you know is not truth, but it sounds very convincing, don't be surprised. Lies can sound just as convincing, if not more so, than the truth. Do you know why we're intrigued by crazy? Because they sound so confident, they just might be onto something, and, you know, they told Galileo that he was crazy. And doesn't sometimes seem like maybe we're the crazy ones, and the people in the loony bins are the ones who actually have it figured out?

No. No. Of course not. But that kind of bullcrap gets you points in polite society. It's so very profound to say, "All I really need to know I learned in Kindegarten," but I'd like to see your kid give my grandpa the open heart surgery he needs.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

If You Trash My Religion I'll Respect You More

Whoops, I think I accidentally said it all in the title, there isn't really a pay off from this point on, but I guess I'll elaborate since I'm here.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but people get offended when one person criticizes another person’s religion. At family reunions you have to do a scan for the Mormon cousin, or the Jevhovah's Witness brother-in-law before you start saying what you really feel. From time to time a religious leader will get in trouble for criticizing another religion. For instance, Louis Farrakhan caught hell for saying that Judaism is a “gutter religion.”

With some partially due respect, I think that us Americans have missed the point: I want you to know that I would be offended if you were of another religion and you didn’t think that Christianity was a false religion. I would say, what’s wrong with you? I'm inclined not to take you and your religion seriously if you see no problem with contradiction. I have the common decency to say that Islam is based upon lies—the Muslim (the regular kind, not the extremists) would tell you that, you know, Christians are cool and Jesus was a good teacher and their Bible just got a little bit messed up in some parts, but the other parts are fully inspired Scripture. Thanks a pants full.

That's like me walking up to a feminist and saying: Oh you cute thing, you think you're equal to me, and, in some ways I think that you're right. We're both white, we both have heads and opposable thumbs, so...if that's what you mean by equal, then, yes, we're equal. I mean, your brain is smaller than mine, I cannot speak to you logically and I need you to go and fix me up a sandwich before I get out of here.

Believing in a religion necessarily means that other things can't be true. Jesus said the only way you get to heaven is through him. Now, Jesus could have been wrong, just because he said that doesn't make it true. But because he said that, and because I happen to believe him, that makes it impossible for me to believe in any other religion that doesn't say that Jesus is the one-lane highway to heaven. The Islam ones say that there is no God but Allah, and Mohamed is his prophet. Well, Islams also say that Jesus was a prophet (just not God), but Mohamed says different things about Jesus than Jesus said of himself, so one of these religions has a liar at its core. If you're a Muslim then I hope you think my religion is a gutter one, otherwise I have to wonder if you're playing with a full deck.

Buddhists seem to be just peachy keen with every other religion and that pisses me off. What does it take to ruffle one of these guys? That Dolly Llamma is always walking around with that big grin on his kisser and you know that's a front. I mean, look, I want to make my religion look nice and fun and enticing too, but I'm not going to suppress my basic human tendency to go nuts when everything in me says that's what I have to do. I'm sure he's got a few Chinese tied up in his basement and when the world is too much he retreats to his underground lair and gives them a few good kicks. And the bottom line is that is not a healthy way to deal with the difficulties in this world.

If we all say that most religions are beautiful then we're playing pattycake with each other, or, even more embarrassing, with ourselves when no one is looking, and haven't we outgrown that by now?

Anyway, I wanted to bag on the Shintos, Hindus and Taoists, but I just don't know enough about them and I didn't want to come off as being small-minded or petty.