Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I've Become What I Hate, But It's Not So Bad

Up until this point I thought I could only hate someone who ever agreed with this person:

But that is where I find myself today: In agreeance with Paris Hilton.

You see, the thing is that I hate dumb. I hate it in the general. If someone says or does something dumb then I hate that (this leads to a lot of self-loathing on my part, by the way). Now, Paris Hilton is clearly dumb (or stupid or silly, whichever you think is best), but a group of Australians attacked her for something asinine that far outweighs her general dumbness, and so for once in her life the smart tables have turned in her direction. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, and I know you are many, I offer a synopsis: Hilton was in Sydney to host a New Year's Eve party (she is being paid $100,000) and she went on a shopping spree where she dropped about $3,500 in 45 minutes. She was immediately critizcised by local charities who accused her of calous excess in desperate times.

Paris, God bless her, turned around on they asses and made the irrefutable point that she is performing a charitable and benevolent act by dispensing some of her considerable capital to help out the Australian economy. If more people with the means acted more like Paris then we'd all be a lot better off, financially speaking.

What's really going on here is that it is easy to bag on Paris Hilton (as I have demonstrated above) and so some dimwitted Australians decided they'd get their cuties in, they'd get their licks in and make hay while the sun shines--well guess what? Paris gave it right back to them with a sticker on it and set them spinning at such a pace that they couldn't find it with three hands and a searchlight. And do you know why Paris was able to do that? Because "You never open your mouth unless you know what the shot is," to quote my main man Pacino. That's right, even if it looks like easy pickins, low hanging fruit, cream off the top you don't do it unless you have a justifiable reason.

But what these people did was wait on pins and needles until Paris got to town and then pounced on the first thing that she did so they could get a little attention. That was their plan for the last three months no matter what the first thing she did. The first thing Paris could have done was go to the local leper colony and they would have found a way to spin that nefarious. Nice try guys, maybe that plays pretty well Ausie-side, but it don't play so good state-side.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thoughts on 2008; A Retrospective: Remembrance of Things Past--Looking Forward to Looking Beyond: A Post-historical bi-annual anti-memoir

As I reflect upon this year I feel tired. It's not anything about the year that makes me feel this way, it is more owing to the large lunch I had before sitting down on my break to clack this missive out.

I learned so many intimate and important details about myself, my faith, and my country. Actually, I wish I had even more 2008 because there is so much more I'm sure I could learn, but what's done is done. I learned that I really, really can't stand the sound of chewing noises that anyone besides myself make. I used to hate the noises my little brother would make at the table, but I thought that was just because I was a jerk older brother so everything my kid-brother did had to annoy me. Turns out it's not true: the irritation I experience whilst the halfwit next to me chomps his Gold & Delicious has clearly worsened with age. You can tell because apparently now I am making intelligence judgements about the chewers around me. Though I know people cannot help the noises, I am still experiencing increasing irrational anger directed towards the offenders, and the feeling is portending towards an ominous 2009 for those eaters around me.

I also learned that I have a file with the CIA. But I've been asked in several anonymous (except for the call ID saying "US Govt"), late night phone calls to not say anything about it. Nuff said.

I learned that dreams do come true if there was a clairvoyant within the last five generations of your bloodline (thanks Hamzen Kefauveur!).

2008 was a year of transition and change. It was a year when some people said "ah, screw it," while others said "c'mon, lets do it." The die has been cast, we have made our 2008 decisions; if anything needs to be rectified before the year is officially set in stone you've only got two days, so get cracking.

I have some hopes for the year of our Lord, 2009: I hope all my favorite directors come out with new movies that please me. I hope I make large sums of money off of relatively little work. I hope everyone starts thinking just a little more like me. I hope Ipod's become dirt cheap. I hope the Pacific ocean is as blue as it is in my dreams.

Actually, nevermind about that last one. I forgot that one isn't mine, it was one of Morgan Freeman's hopes at the end of The Shawshank Redemption. Sorry.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Reason For God

There are a lot of good reasons to believe in God, but this reason I'm about to unfold is, I think, the best one. There are also a lot of good reasons to doubt God, but clearly I'm a person who has not given those reasons ultimate sway. I think the fact that people with power get away with murder and worse, and sometimes young children die of cancer and starve and get beaten should give people pause. But ultimately that should probably drive you to a hope that there is a God.

But making an argument for the vague idea of "God" is not very useful. In this country 94%-plus people believe in God, but what that means to them is as varied as cocktail recipes. A deistic God may as well not be there; a new age, "positive" God is really just you with your own personal style of halo...No, I lobby for a triumphant God with standards that may not necessarily match up with yours or mine. This God also reserves the right to pronounce a final judgment when you're all said and done. Yes, I've chosen to take the Bible at its word, and if you would like to engage me in fisticuffs over that then I am certainly willing, but I don't think that's necessary. I wish to engage your mind rather than your emotions or sense of guilt.

That God of the Bible is somewhat controversial, and that is why I am relying on an atheist to make my point. I don't know for sure if Joseph Heller is an atheist, but nihilists usually are. Anyway, he makes this case for God (even though he doesn't know that's what he is doing), and the appeal is very similar to that of the book of Ecclesiastes, which is disenchanted with almost everything (it is in the Bible so it's automatic that it will be for at least one Thing). Here is your life-changing paragraph:

"The chaplain had sinned, and it was good. Common sense told him that telling lies and defecting from duty were sins. On the other hand, everyone knew that sin was evil and that no good could come from evil. But he did feel good; he felt positively marvelous. Consequently, it followed logically that telling lies and defecting from duty could not be sins. The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character."

This is the world that you live in. A world where the only truth is the question of whose will shall triumph over whose. Of course it is exhilarating to wake up in the morning and think that everything is negotiable, but you'll quickly tire from the knowledge that sooner or later everyone is bullshitting you, including yourself. To say that you define your own truth, that everything is negotiable and we blaze our own trail, is the same thing as saying that everything is meaningless. If your truth is simply your truth and others are free to contradict and disagree, then that and 5 cents will get you a decent cup of coffee--and that's about it. If there is no fixed morality then questions of right and wrong are only yet another expedient to whatever a person desires. No ultimate reality means that all questions, ALL questions--Hitler, abortion, suicide, genocide, matricide and shoplifting--are questions of personal taste.


What this quote accentuates is the fact that we all lie (rationalization usually equals lie), and we do it well, and we do it often. It's a depiction of the common human experience, though when most read it they claim to somehow be an outsider to the human race: "Yeah, those lying, cheating bastards," the outsider will say. It's "those people," over there. The world is composed of six billion souls who consider themselves the exception to the rule.

Do you know what the ultimate picture is of someone who has fully actualized themselves and created and embraced their own truth? A person who has gone insane.

After viewing the world through the lens that Heller and the Bible provide, I would think you would hope there was a God to pull you out of that morass, that awful, meaningless grind. But alas, I know that most won't. Submitting yourself to a higher authority suggests a loss of autonomy and the ability to do what one wishes--even though we spend ourselves chasing after the wind. The child insists on their own way and we are all thankful that a parent is there constantly saving the child's life--that is our relationship to God, writ large.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Could have Seen This Coming 8 Miles Down the Pike

All I needed was one glimpse of this guy's face to know he was a real asshole:

The state of Illinois could have saved themselves a lot of time, money and heartache if they just would have asked me what I thought of the guy first.
And give me a break with that name, Blagojevitch?! Yeah right...you see, the whole thing just never added up from the beginning. That mug, that bullcrap name...I don't think so, baby. I bet the state of Illinois would elect Tony Montana (that's Scareface to the unfamiliar) if given one hot New York Minute and a coupon for a free Dunkin' Donut.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Distpatch from Battle Christmas! 2008

I do this thing for the Seattle Times where they send me, and a bunch of wannabe pundits like myself, a question and then they post our answers on their website, and if you're really lucky, they print some of the responses in the paper.

Last week they asked us about the atheist sign that was put up in our state's capitol, Olympia. Check out the story, but the sign, put up by a private citizen and sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, read in part:

"Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

There is also a nativity scene set up there at the capitol, so they asked us our opinion, if we thought the state should be allowing these displays or not. Here is the link to the Times' entry on the subject, but I will cut and paste my response here so you don't have to go fishing for it--plus I try to be honest with myself so I know that you'd never do it in a million years anyway:

"There shouldn't be a ban on religious displays because I don't think it would be constitutional, but I think the whole endeavor is pretty silly. It seems a bizarre notion from any religious/atheistic persuasion that you need to take time out of your day to setup a display on governmental property so you and the people who agree with you can feel good about themselves. Isn't that what we have our own property for, to do with it what we wish?

The whole thing smacks of ego-stroking much more than it does of the "holiday spirit." I say a pox on all of those more concerned with ramming their symbolism down people's throats than they are with having meaningful interaction with differing viewpoints--but I grudgingly support their right to do it.

As a Christian I respect people's God given right to think that Santa Claus is lame or that Jesus was a fraud. I'm not interested in having someone falsely genuflect because in our culture that is just the polite thing to do. In this Christmas season I'd rather have a beer and good conversation with an atheist than shoot him a snide look when he says "religion is a myth," instead of "Merry Christmas."

Hopefully my combination of acrid commentary and magnanimous gesticulating will piss at least someone people off and you'll respond so I'll feel my life has been worth it.

The only other thing I wanted to say, and I know about 0.5 of you will get the reference (it's what the science nerd on the Simpson's calls "The Dennis Miller Factor"), but yeah, the only other thing I wanted to say is that I think there is some sort of weird magnetism between Pastor Ken Hutcherson and television cameras. You might want to get that looked at, there, Hutcherson. His checklist: Marriage rally with Dobson in '04 (how is that constitutional amendment coming along?), boycott Microsoft for their personal decision to extend benefits to gay partners (yeah, that will be effective, and I'm sure you're still leading the boycott, right?), go out to a local high school because the gay students decided to stage some type of protest--you're getting your face all over the place, good for you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Personality Suppression and Its Effects

I frequently suffer a crisis of confidence and therefor subdue key parts of who I am, what I like, and what I do for the sake of perceived social lubrication/cohesion/solidarity. In the name of keeping things copacetic I will like what you like, hate what you hate, and coo at what you coo at.

Peer pressure and the need to fit in is stronger than you would like to admit.

Here is what will happen: for the sake of convenience and in the name of not wanting to embarrass myself I will suppress the fact that I love country music. I'll be in a gathering of hip 20-somethings who go to clubs and own Volkswagens and I just won't want to screw around with it. And the next thing I know some black guy will talk about how much he loves country music and he'll sing a few verses or something. He just comes out and owns country music, no apologies. The truth is no one really cares all that much after all, and he gets points for being brave, unique and different. Now I look like a chump because if I reveal my like minded affinity then I'm just jumping on the bandwagon, or it becomes obvious that I'm a candyass weakling who allowed himself to be cowed by the majority.

Same goes for politics. I frequently find I'm the only conservative in the room, and lately I have taken to just shutting up (thanks a lot George W. Bush—don't play that game, I know you can hear me) when it comes to politics. Even if I think of something good to say—a zing, if you will–I will be too afraid to say it, just in case I could be wrong or off the mark. But then I'll hear someone smart say the thing I thought of, a columnist or a pundit, and I'll curse myself and tear my clothing because if I would just have a little testicular fortitude then I could be the one to say the thought provoking thing in the face of adversity.

But then again, in the past I've been the guy who says whatever he thinks, come what may, and I came off as a brash, arrogant loudmouth whom his friends didn't want to talk to.

A brother just can't win.